AFL-CIO Now - Convention 2013

Action Sessions to Change the Way Attendees Take Part in AFL-CIO Convention


Kenneth Quinnell

Action Sessions to Change the Way Attendees Take Part in AFL-CIO Convention

The 2013 AFL-CIO Convention will feature a series of action sessions conducted by and for delegates, community members and other stakeholders each day of the convention. More than just the traditional panel discussions, these sessions will offer the opportunity to learn and develop action strategies about the key issues facing working families and building a broader, stronger labor movement. The action sessions selected for the convention are listed below.

Saturday, September 7

This special session will take place Saturday, Sept. 7, 2:30–5:30 p.m., meet at the entrance to the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Don't forget to live-tweet using the hashtag #aflcio13:

Solidarity Action with Los Angeles Workers and Community Allies

Young workers kick off their participation in the AFL-CIO 2013 Convention by joining in solidarity with workers and community partners in Los Angeles.  We’ll meet up at the LA Convention Center at 2:30 p.m.  From there we’ll head to south LA and join in a “Hunt for Justice”—a scavenger hunt that includes a number of different activities in support of local carwash workers, a community health center, immigrant rights and other solidarity actions. 

Monday, September 9

The following action sessions are taking place from 12:30–2:00 p.m. PDT. Check out the schedule below and don't forget to live-tweet using the hashtag #aflcio13:

Anyone Can Join, Everyone Should: Models for Alternative Membership

Room 402-B

There are lots of workers who want raises, rights and respect on the job but aren’t able or ready to select a representative for collective bargaining or join an affiliate as a traditional member yet. We need to open our doors to anyone who wants to work with others to make their jobs better, raise standards in their industries or communities and fight for good jobs and economic democracy. We can do this through associate member and other nontraditional membership programs and through Working America. In this action session you will hear about several different approaches to associate member programs at the AFT, the Ironworkers (Ironworkers Associates of Working America) and IATSE (Reel Working America). Additionally, Working America will outline ways that state federations and central labor councils can use Working America to build the labor movement in their communities.The format will be interactive, and participants will have the opportunity to break out for more focused discussion depending on their area of interest.

Moderator: David Wehde, Organizing Director, Working America


• Phil Kugler, Assistant to the President for Organizing and Field Services, AFT

• Bernie Evers, Chief of Staff/Executive Assistant to the General President, Ironworkers

• Jon Hendry, President, New Mexico Federation of Labor; Business Agent, IATSE Local 480

• Debbie Reid, Assistant to the President, IATSE

Art and Activism 101: The Creative Power of Arts and Culture as a Catalyst for Action

Solidarity Stage 1

The creative power of arts and culture is a catalyst for action. Join a dynamic group of artists for this session on strategies and tactics for integrating visual art, music, dance and performance into rallies, marches and even meetings. This action session will include a participatory creative workshop—building and designing visual props for a Monday evening action.

Moderator: Ana Avendaño, Assistant to the President for Immigration and Community Action, AFL-CIO


• Michelle Miller, Arts & Democracy

• Ramiro Gomez, Arts & Democracy

• Caron Atlas, Arts & Democracy

Ask Me About the Future: Young Workers Speak Up!

Room 403-A

This action session will look at the question of how to engage more young people in the labor movement. What turns young people into labor activists? How do we use their ideas and energy to transform our work? Why is it important to develop young leaders? What are the dos and don’ts when engaging young workers in organizing and political action? And how do we adapt our strategies, partnerships and attitudes to meet young people where they’re at? The session will include:

• An honest and open dialogue about the opportunities and challenges of bringing young people into the labor movement.

• An action-oriented discussion to identify priorities and hone a plan to build capacity for local young worker groups and union initiatives, including policy and political programs; develop effective leadership training for young workers; and utilize creative organizing strategies to bridge the generation gap.

This session is for all ages! Prepare to take action and involve young people in the labor movement!


• Jennifer Gray, Organizer, IBEW Local 1245

• Carmen Berkley, Director, Civil and Human Rights Department, AFL-CIO; former Executive Director of Generational Alliance

• Galen Hooks, Dancer and Choreographer, Chair of Dancers’ Alliance, SAG-AFTRA

• Rosa Blumenfeld, Lead Organizer, Greater Boston Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Sponsored by the AFL-CIO’s National Young Worker Advisory Council (YWAC) and the AFL-CIO NextUp Young Workers Program.

Audacity Over Austerity: Ten Years of Raising Wages and Workers’ Rights in Brazil

Room 403-B

Between 2003 and 2013, 40 million Brazilians climbed out of poverty. Strong collective bargaining and minimum wage adjustments and legislation increased real wages for most workers, leading to strong consumer demand. At the same time, many workers—often women and people of color—who were previously excluded from formal employment and social security coverage, gained employment and fuller citizenship. In workplaces and broader political issues, unions have pushed democracy and development in Brazil in the right direction—even during the global financial and jobs crisis. As recent protests for a fairer tax system and quality public services show, this work is not done. Brazilians from major national organizations—CUT, Força Sindical and UGT—and AFL-CIO affiliates will discuss their model of social movement unionism and collaboration in organizing campaigns, enlisting participants to learn and join in.

Moderator: Brian Finnegan, Global Workers’ Rights Coordinator, AFL-CIO


• Vagner Freitas, President, CUT-Brasil

• Ricardo Patah, President, UGT-Brasil

• Miguel Torres, President of CNTM (metalworkers federation) and Vice-President of Força Sindical

• Bob King, President, UAW

• Larry Cohen, President, CWA

Deepening Faith Engagement: Best Practices for Collaboration

Room 406-A

How can labor and the faith community collaborate more closely together? This action session will look at the best practices around deep and meaningful engagement of faith communities in economic justice and labor issues. It will recommend ways to avoid short-term transactional relationships and move toward true long-term partnerships. Case study highlights include the Patriot Coal campaign.

Moderator: Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Executive Director, Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice of San Diego


• Rev. C.J. Hawking, Executive Director, Arise Chicago

• Phil Smith, Communications Director, UMWA

• Kim Bobo, Executive Director, Interfaith Worker Justice

Don’t Be a Stranger: Labor-Management Partnerships in the Global Age

Room 402-A

This action session will highlight three studies of cases that have been successful at meeting the needs of employers, employees and communities by creating effective and innovative partnerships. These partnerships link the very best of unions, employers and academia to build new business models that work. Participants will engage in a discussion about labor-management partnerships on the job site, citywide coalitions for reviving manufacturing and labor-academia partnerships that provide manufacturing start-ups with skilled union labor.

Moderator: Amanda Pacheco, Education Director, IBEW


• Paul O’Connor, President, Portsmouth Metal Trades Council

• Jorge Ramirez, President, Chicago Federation of Labor

• Dan Swinney, Executive Director, Manufacturing Renaissance Council

• Rick Bloomingdale, President, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

• Frank Snyder, Secretary-Treasurer, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

• Timothy McNulty, Associate Vice President, Carnegie Mellon University

Expanding the Pie: How Unions Can Partner with Foundations

Room 404-A

This session will give participants a general overview of how foundations work and focus on three partnerships between labor unions and foundations. These partnerships are: The New York Education Justice Fund, the Labor Innovation for the Twenty-First Century (LIFT) Fund and Wall Street Accountability. We will have ample time for the audience to ask funders questions about how foundations work.

Moderator: Anna Fink, Senior Adviser for Philanthropy and Innovation, AFL-CIO


• LaToia Jones, Assistant Director, Human Rights and Community Relations Department, AFT

• Oona Chatterjee, Founder, New York Education Justice Fund

• Dania Rajendra, Program Director, Neighborhood Funders Group

• Laine Romero-Alston, Program Officer, Ford Foundation

• Anna Lefer-Kuhn, Executive Director, Arca Foundation

• Damon Silvers, Policy Director, AFL-CIO

Gearing Up for the Fall Budget Battles

Room 408-B

This session will give participants a preview of what to expect in budget battles this fall, and equip them with the information and understanding they need to make a difference for working people in this fight. The key issues in the coming debate are the same core demands that union members have been making for the last two years—end budget austerity and focus instead on the real crisis of unemployment and stagnant wages; repeal sequestration cuts that are strangling our economy; stop any benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security; and ask Wall Street and the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes. The session will feature a lobbying training session with participants playing the roles of a member of Congress and a constituent. Throughout the conversation, successful strategies around communications, social media and mobilization will be highlighted.

Moderator: Kelly Ross, Deputy Policy Director, AFL-CIO


• Bill Samuel, Director of Government Affairs, AFL-CIO

• Jacque Simon, Policy Director, AFGE

• Dani Pere, Field Director, Alliance for Retired Americans

• Ross Eisenbrey, Vice President, Economic Policy Institute (EPI)

Infrastructure, Jobs and Reducing Emissions: Upgrading Natural Gas Distribution Systems

Room 406-B

This action session is a workshop to discuss our national effort to fund long-term upgrades of natural gas distribution systems and get participants started on building the local coalition needed to be successful. Upgrading natural gas distribution systems can create tens of thousands of jobs over a decade or more, mostly in the construction occupations but also in manufacturing. These upgrades would reduce fugitive methane emissions that cost consumers millions and contribute to climate change. The AFL-CIO and the Blue Green Alliance have formed a partnership to work across the nation helping unions and utilities build the case for these upgrades. Come see if we can help you start a project in your hometown.

Moderator: Brad Markell, Executive Director, Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO


• Dave Foster, Executive Director, Blue-Green Alliance

• Roxanne Brown, Assistant Legislative Director, USW

• David Barnett, Special Representative, UA

• Carl Wood, National Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs, UWUA

Lessons from the State Battles

Room 404-B

Since the 2010 election, unions have been the top target of the resurgent right wing. There are plenty of lessons from both our wins and our defeats, lessons we’ll need to appreciate as the state battles continue. Veterans of the battles will share reflections, including what we’re learning from message-testing this year.

Moderator: Paul Booth, Executive Assistant to the President, AFSCME


• Will Robinson, President, The New Media Firm

• Tom Russell, Consultant

• Jan Schaffer, Northeast Regional Campaign Coordinator, AFL-CIO

Pop Ed 101: Using Popular Education for Social Change

Solidarity Stage 2

This interactive, activity-based workshop will demonstrate tools used by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network to analyze immigration and worker issues and build leadership skills based on the principles of popular education and experiences from Latin America and the United States. Come learn about the guiding principles of popular education and explore the tools and techniques that organizers and educators can apply directly to what you already are doing.


• Nadia Marin-Molina, Worker Rights Program Coordinator/Staff Attorney, NDLON

• B. Loewe, Communications Director, NDLON

Power Partnerships: Labor/Community Campaigns That Build Worker Power

Room 308-A/B

This session will focus on how to engage in policy campaigns that build the base. It will focus on three examples: carwash campaigns, paid sick days campaigns and the AFT’s transformational partnerships with community. Participants will learn about these campaigns and best practices.

Moderator: Carol Joyner, National Policy Director, Labor Project for Working Families


• Tony Perlstein, Lead Organizer, Center for Popular Democracy

• Lorretta Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer, AFT

• Deb Axt, Co-Director, Make the Road NY

• Dave Mertz, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW

Privatization: Collaborative Strategies for Fighting Back

Room 405

The session will give a brief overview of the larger threats of privatization to the economy, the labor movement and democracy in the United States. We will look at successful strategies and messaging that have worked in cases to educate and recruit community allies, train members and win privatization battles.

Moderator: Donald Cohen, Executive Director, In the Public Interest


• Ruby Newbold, Vice President, AFT Michigan

• Ken Allen, Executive Director, AFSCME Council 75

  • Cliff Guffey, President APWU

• Additional representatives from unions engaged in anti-privatization campaigns

What’s Digital Strategies?

Boots Online Digital Booth Curious about digital? Not sure where to get started? We’ll demystify how digital organizing works, and how to get you or your organization started, so you can join the conversation. This session will give a basic overview of why you should invest in digital, how to talk about it to your employees or supervisors and how to measure its impact so you get results.


• Rachel LaBruyere, Deputy Director, Digital Strategies

Who is Trying to Steal Our Democracy and What We Can Do to Stop Them?

Room 306-A/B

Our democracy is under attack. Voting rights are being eroded as state legislatures nationwide pass voter suppression laws under the pretext of preventing voter fraud and safeguarding election integrity. These voter suppression laws take many forms, and collectively lead to significant burdens for eligible voters trying to exercise their most fundamental constitutional right. This session will seek to showcase how the labor movement and our allies are fighting back. It will highlight the strategies and tactics that have been successfully used to win back our democratic rights and how we can work together in the future to stop the attacks.

Moderator: Fred Redmond, International Vice President, USW


• Judith Browne Dianis, Director, Advancement Project

• MaryBe McMillan, Secretary-Treasurer, North Carolina State AFL-CIO

• Claude Cummings, Vice President, Region 6, CWA

• Peggy Shorey, Deputy Director, Government Affairs, AFL-CIO

Winning for Texas Workers

Room 408-A

In this century, the population of Texas has grown more than twice as fast as the rest of the country, as the state has added 5 million residents since 2000. The two metro areas with the highest growth in the country are both in Texas: Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, which each added 1.5 million residents. The state also has seen the greatest growth in GDP and is home to 52 Fortune 500 companies. Democrats have not won statewide office since 1994, but Texas has been a majority-minority state since 2005, and two-thirds of its growth has been Latino. Overall union density is only 5.7%, but Texas is one of a few states that has seen its density increase in recent years. However, Texas has the lowest voter turnout in the country and has cleverly drawn legislative maps that allow very few competitive races for state and congressional seats. Clearly Texas cannot be ignored, yet its size can seem overwhelming. There is a congressional and senate district that are each larger than France. How can labor organize significant numbers of new members in a giant “right to work” state? How can labor turn out the vote to shift politics in this state, and thus the whole country? Some efforts by the Texas AFL-CIO and affiliates already are under way. This session is an opportunity to hear about these efforts and to brainstorm together about more ways to successfully combine political and organizing work to win the Lone Star State for workers.

Moderator: Becky Moeller, President, Texas AFL-CIO


• Richard Shaw, Secretary-Treasurer, Harris County (Texas) AFL-CIO Council

• Linda Bridges, President, Texas AFT

• Marvin Ragsdale, Ironworkers

• Cristina Tzintzun, Executive Director, Workers Defense Project

• Mike Cunningham, Texas Building Trades

Tuesday, September 10

The following action sessions are taking place from 12:30–2 p.m. PDT. Check out the schedule below and don't forget to live-tweet using the hashtag #aflcio13:

Alt-Labor: Building Union-Worker Center Partnerships 

Room 408-B

Over the last decade, worker center and other nonunion worker groups have evolved as new frontiers in labor organizing, often working with low-wage and immigrant workers. Labor leaders have been instrumental partners in helping build innovative collaborations with worker centers.

This panel features labor and worker center leaders talking about best practices and exploring the challenges and obstacles in deepening worker center-union partnerships. 

Moderator: Jennifer Angarita, National Worker Center Partnership Coordinator, AFL-CIO 


• James Haslam, Executive Director, Vermont Worker Center

• Ben Johnson, President, Vermont State Labor Council

• Hilary Stern, Executive Director, Casa Latina

• Jeff Johnson, President, Washington State Labor Council

Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord: A New Standard in Global Framework Agreements?

Room 405

When the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse killed more than 1,100 workers, the tragedy set off a wave of activism and a push for meaningful and enforceable safety standards for workers producing apparel for the global marketplace. In May 2013 Global Union Federations, local unions and multinational brands entered into the Accord on Building and Fire Safety in Bangladesh, which contains significant elements for implementation and enforcement. Along with Bangladeshi organizations, several international organizations played an important role in demanding and negotiating the accord language, setting a standard for implementation and enforcement not previously seen in global agreements with multinational employers. Presenters in this panel will examine the accord content, the negotiation process to reach agreement with the initial signatories, the campaign efforts to move U.S. brands to sign the accord and potential lessons for global organizing campaigns aimed to build power for workers employed by multinationals or their suppliers. 

Moderator: Ben Davis, International Affairs Director, USW 


• Scott Nova, Executive Director, Worker Rights Consortium

• Garrett Strain, International Campaigns Coordinator, United Students Against Sweatshops

• Owen Herrnstadt, Director of International Affairs, IAM

• Kalpona Akter, Executive Director, Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity

Fighting for Health Care in the Age of the Affordable Care Act

Room 408-A 

Participants in this session will identify the challenges to providing affordable, quality health coverage after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. There will be a particular focus on how employers are responding to the new health law and the potential impact on workers’ health benefits. Participants will identify critical ways to fight for health coverage in bargaining and through advocacy.

Moderators: Karin Feldman and Shaun O’Brien, AFL-CIO


• Randy DeFrehn, Executive Director, National Coordinating Committee of Multiemployer Plans

• Ken Jacobs, Chair, Center for Labor Research and Education, UC Berkeley

• Angie Wei, Legislative Director, California Labor Federation

• Matt Schlobohm, Executive Director, Maine AFL-CIO

Global Approaches to Building Worker Power

Room 306-A/B 

Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, in her leadership role as the head of the world’s largest trade union organization representing 174 million workers in 156 countries, has led the ITUC to take on the challenge of building organizing capacity in every region of the world. In her presentation she will discuss the efforts to move the ITUC and its affiliates toward an organizing and campaign-based model, working closely with the Global Union Federations and the ITUC affiliates. She will describe the framework of organizing for power and will host four ITUC affiliates who will present case studies of organizing for power in their home countries of Nigeria, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Burma.

Moderator and Keynote Speaker: Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation


• Lee Cheuk Yan, General Secretary and Hong Kong Legislative Councillor (New Territories West), Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions

• Said Iqbal, President, Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI)

• U Maung Maung, General Secretary, Federation of Trade Unions—Myanmar

• Ayuba Wabba, National Treasurer and Chairman of Organizing, Nigeria Labor Congress

How the Trans-Pacific Partnership (a Supersized NAFTA) Will Impact You as a Worker and What You Can Do About It!

Room 404-B

This workshop will teach you about the impacts of U.S. trade policy and the likely effects of the TPP. It will show you how to make the most of your video, email and Internet resources to educate and mobilize your members and the general public on the TPP and the reasons workers globally need a new trade model. Employing electronic communications strategies can help build relationships across international borders—speeding and easing communication and cooperation in ways that weren’t possible during the NAFTA fight 20 years ago. Make your efforts to build shared prosperity in the global economy more efficient and more effective with this workshop.

Moderator and Speaker: Celeste Drake, Policy Specialist for Trade and International Economics, Policy Department, AFL-CIO


• Kristen Beifus, Executive Director, Washington Fair Trade Coalition

• Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, Executive Director, Sum of Us

Lessons in Women’s Leadership: ‘Leaning In’ the Labor Way

Solidarity Stage 1 

Women don’t simply need to “lean in” to the leadership challenge—they need to organize. This session will build on a theory of women’s leadership development and turn it into action. AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Laura Reyes and New Mexico Federation of Labor Secretary-Treasurer Maxine Velasquez will lead the session, looking at the structural supports and programs that develop women leaders and surfacing the personal commitments men and women of the labor movement can make to support that change. This session is intended to start a national dialogue on women’s leadership, beginning with practical steps participants can take back home.

Moderator and Facilitator: Prairie Wells, Governance, Organizational and Leadership Development, Campaigns Department, AFL-CIO


• Laura Reyes, Secretary-Treasurer, AFSCME

• Maxine Velasquez, Secretary-Treasurer, New Mexico Federation of Labor

  • Connie Mabin, Director of New Media and Next Generation, USW

Link Up with China’s Workers Around Common Issues in the Global Economy

Room 406-B

This session will focus on ways in which U.S. unions are connecting with collective bargaining in the world’s largest working class, as U.S. and Chinese workers face some of the same employers and confront common issues in the global economy. China’s industrial workers are standing up and demanding better wages and improved conditions. Katie Quan and Kent Wong have been at the forefront of organizing Asian American workers and linking the U.S. labor movement with counterparts in China. Stephanie Tang is the UAW Global Organizing Institute China director. In a panel discussion, they will highlight collective bargaining developments in China, and how U.S. unions can build useful relationships with counterparts in China. Learn how to connect with Chinese workers and unions.

Moderator: Earl Brown, China Program Director, AFL-CIO Solidarity Center


• Katie Quan, Associate Chair, UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and

  Co-Director, International Center for Joint Labor Research at Sun Yat-sen University

• Kent Wong, Director, UC Los Angeles Center for Labor Research and Education

• Stephanie Tang, China Director, Global Organizing Institute, UAW

Mass Incarceration and the Labor Movement Analysis 

Room 406-A

“Prosperity for All” cannot occur when millions are impacted by a criminal justice system that imprisons hundreds of thousands of people and—in the name of privatization—violates a public trust to enrich the private prison industry.  According to the Population Reference Bureau, the United States has the largest prison population in the world and the highest rate of incarceration (number of prisoners per 100,000 persons). This reality of mass incarceration brings irrevocable harm to working people as families with loved ones who are either behind bars or cannot find decent employment upon release and as taxpayers who see their tax dollars put into jails instead of schools, affordable housing, better transportation and a cleaner environment. The reality of states subcontracting what should be a public system to the for-profit prison industry incentives profits over justice and leads to overcrowding and inhumane conditions. This Action Session will begin the process of developing a labor movement analysis of mass incarceration that outlines how union members are affected by mass incarceration outside the workplace as their families and neighborhoods are impacted and inside the workplace as their unions are involved in the criminal justice system or perform work that can address the causes and consequences of mass incarceration.  

Moderator: Professor Steven Pitts, UC Berkeley Labor Center


  • Donald Cohen, Executive Director, In the Public Interest
  • Carmen Berkley, Director Civil, Human, Women’s Rights, AFL-CIO
  • Robert Rooks, Organizing Director, Californians for Safety and Justice
  • William Spriggs, Chief Economist, AFL-CIO

Organize the South: Why the South Matters to the Future of Labor

Room 308-A/B 

As the labor movement contemplates its future, we can look to the South for a glimpse of what that future might be. Workers in the South have the lowest wages, the fewest worker protections and the least union representation. For decades, Southern states have been “right to work” for less states and have limited or denied their public employees the right to collectively bargain. Given the region’s culture and laws, unions have not invested heavily in organizing there. It is no surprise that voters in the South keep electing state and federal officials who vote time and again against workers’ interests. What happens in the South affects the nation, and the region’s influence will only grow as the South gains in both population and political representation. What does that mean for the labor movement and for workers?


• MaryBe McMillan, Secretary-Treasurer, North Carolina State AFL-CIO

• Dorothy Grant-Townsend, Southern Director, AFSCME

• Gary Casteel, Region 8 Director, UAW

• Baldemar Velásquez, President, FLOC

• Keith Maddox, Organizing Department, AFL-CIO

Organizing Workers and Immigration Reform: A Strategy Session 

Room 403-A 

This participatory session will bring together labor leadership and dynamic national immigrant rights groups to strategize around organizing immigrant workers. Together we will discuss what the world could look like with commonsense immigration reform and what steps labor can start to take now and until reform comes. This session will convey the extraordinary potential that immigration reform poses for growing the labor movement and building greater progressive worker power. Guest speakers will share current labor and community efforts under way to plan for legalization of the approximately 5 million to 7 million people who may become eligible under legislative reform. We will highlight national coordination efforts to provide competent and much-needed services that will organize and empower workers through strategic grassroots collaborations. Finally, we will strategize concrete steps labor can take to further mobilize and advocate for policy reforms that move legislation forward and uplift the immigrant population, such as ending deportation and expanding deferred action. At the same time, at least 4 million to 5 million people are likely to be excluded from the benefits of legislative reform, and labor must support ongoing efforts to help organize and empower this group by deepening our partnerships with immigrant worker organizations. By collaborating with networks of grassroots community groups and national service providers, the labor movement could help change the current political landscape and greatly expand worker power.

Moderator: Ana Avendaño, Assistant to the President for Immigration and Community Action, AFL-CIO


• Tefere Gebre, Executive Director, Orange Country Labor Federation

• Chris Newman, Legal Director, NDLON

• Andrew Friedman, Executive Director, The Center for Popular Democracy

  • Aquilina Soriano, Filipino Workers Center, NDWA

• Cristina Tzintzun, Executive Director, Workers Defense Project (Tentative)

• Christian Torres, UNITE HERE Local 11 (Tentative)

Power Through Diversity: Strategize with Constituency Groups for a More Inclusive Labor Movement!

Solidarity Stage 2 

Join a strategy session with members of the Labor Coalition for Community Action (LCCA) on the role of constituency groups in a time when the labor movement is facing demographic shifts and decreasing density and is forging stronger relationships with the broader progressive movement. The constituency groups within LCCA represent the diverse communities within the labor movement, striving to raise those voices and to mobilize together for a stronger movement for all working people. Members of LCCA include: A. Philip Randolph Institute, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and Pride At Work.

Moderator: Gregory A. Cendana, Chair, LCCA 


• Johanna Puno Hester, President, APALA

• Clayola Brown, President, APRI

• Terry Melvin, President, CBTU

• Carol Rosenblatt, Executive Director, CLUW

• Milton Rosado, President, LCLAA

• Darren Phelps, Executive Director, Pride At Work

Show It, Don’t Say It! 10 Ways to Change How People See Unions

Room 402-A 

It’s no secret that many people have little or no exposure to unions. They buy into the stereotypes about unions or they simply feel no connection. How do we cut through hostility and indifference? What are the best ways to communicate with key audiences that are especially open to unions—young people, African American workers, Latino workers and women? It’s time to reintroduce unions to America—by what we do every day. Learn 10 things to do to change how people see unions. See best practices from affiliate unions, state federations and central labor councils. And hear what testing shows are the most compelling social media messages from one of the country’s leading social media strategists.


• Liz Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO

• Brandon Weber, Curator of Workonomics at Upworthy

• Christopher Policano, Director of Communications, AFSCME

The Labor Movement’s Campaign to Raise Wages

Room 403-B 

This session will highlight the central importance of raising wages to fix what is wrong with the U.S.economy, and will focus on the indispensable role of the labor movement in raising wages and labor standards for everyone who works in America. The session will highlight successful campaigns to raise wages and labor standards—including campaigns to organize workers, provide for a living wage, raise the minimum wage for tipped and non-tipped workers and provide for paid sick days. Attendees will learn about tactics and strategies around communications, social media, popular mobilization and community partnerships that were especially successful in these campaigns. Audience members from affiliates, departments and community partners then will discuss their past work in raising wages and living standards in an interactive discussion, and will identify their priorities in a broad campaign to raise wages. The session will conclude with planning next steps for the Raising Wages Campaign.

Moderator: Kelly Ross, Deputy Policy Director, AFL-CIO


• David Boundy, Director, Campaigns Department, AFL-CIO

• Shomari Davis, Business Representative, IBEW Local 11

• Saru Jayaraman, Co-Director, Restaurant Opportunities Center

• Derek Smith, Political Director, UNITE HERE Local 11

• Nikki Budzinski, Political Director, UFCW

This is NOT What Democracy Looks Like! The Democracy Initiative 

Room 402-B 

The Democracy Initiative brings together a diverse coalition of organizations uniting to take the money out and put the people back into our democracy. The focus is on breaking the influence of corporate money in politics, voting rights and building a broad movement to break down the barriers to progress on our core issues of good jobs, health care and bargaining rights. The Democracy Initiative is working on issues like changing the Senate rules at the federal level and defending the right to vote at the state level through local coalitions. Come hear CWA President Larry Cohen discuss this important effort to reclaim our democracy and learn about how you can get involved.


• Larry Cohen, President, CWA

• Marissa Brown, Executive Director, Democracy Initiative

Twitter 101: Getting Started

Boots Online Digital Booth


Twitter is the new telephone—when something gets shared on Twitter, it spreads like wildfire, and you don’t want to be left out of the conversation. If you don’t know anything about Twitter, this is the session for you. We’ll walk through step by step how you create a Twitter account and give you some tips to start loving social media.


• Randi Weingarten, President, AFT

• Danielle Hatchett, Social Media, AFL-CIO

Workers’ Voice: An Independent Movement to Elect Progressives

Room 404-A 

In 2012, the AFL-CIO took a bold step of forming “Workers’ Voice,” a labor super PAC charged with redirecting resources back to the labor movement and away from the traditional political party system. Through this new vehicle the unions of the AFL-CIO rebuilt labor’s campaign infrastructure on the ground, initiated innovative new tactics, deployed new technologies and reignited an independent political movement aimed at uniting all workers—union and nonunion—to win meaningful political and policy victories. This panel will discuss this new approach and the future of Workers’ Voice.

Moderator: Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME 


• Michael Podhorzer, Political Director, AFL-CIO

• Nicole Aro, Director of Digital Strategies, AFL-CIO

Wednesday, September 11

The following action sessions are taking place from 12:30–2 p.m. PDT. Check out the schedule below and don't forget to live-tweet using the hashtag #aflcio13:

Bankrupting Retirement: Retirement Security and Bankruptcy as an Employer Strategy

Room 408-A

Participants in this session will learn how bankruptcy is being used as a weapon in the assault on pensions and retirement security and how workers and their unions can fight back. This session will draw on the experience of unions in the private and public sectors, at companies like Patriot Coal and in cities such as Detroit, and lay out how campaigns, the courts and Congress can be used to protect workers and retirees. Participants also will explore the connection between employers’ use of bankruptcy and the broader attack on retirement security and the importance of winning retirement security for all.

Moderators: Damon Silvers and Brandon Rees, AFL-CIO

• Larry Roehrig, Secretary-Treasurer, AFSCME Council 25, and International Vice President
• Grant Crandall, General Counsel, UMWA
• David Jury, Associate General Counsel, USW
• Robert Roach Jr., Secretary-Treasurer, IAM (invited)

Bargain Like an Organizer: Developing and Executing Strategic Contract Campaigns

Room 406-B

Employers have become more aggressive and confrontational in renegotiating existing agreements, often necessitating costly and time-consuming defensive fight backs. For unions, it has become more crucial than ever to bargain behind an offensive strategic plan that expands the scope of the campaign and the victory. This session covers the building blocks of waging successful contract campaigns, including advanced planning, strategic research, member mobilization, community alliances and more.

Moderator: Gordon Pavy, Collective Bargaining Director, AFL-CIO (retired)

• Matt Luskin, Organizer, Chicago Teachers Union, AFT
• Additional affiliates involved in strategic contract campaigns

Building Coalitions for Job Creation: Public Transit

Room 308-A/B

Public transportation creates a community space that unites the interests of diverse groups of people. Around the country workers and riders are fighting side by side to provide reliable and affordable public transportation service. This action session will offer a forum for unions and allies to discuss what works and what doesn’t when communities unite to form campaigns to improve public transportation. The panelists will discuss their efforts to increase public funding for transit, improve service, create good jobs and ensure that the interests of riders and workers are considered by public officials. Participants will offer their perspectives from building alliances that include the labor movement, community organizations, faith-based groups, middle- and working-class people, seniors, people with disabilities and employers.

Moderator: Brendan Danaher, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO

• Darlene Lombos, Executive Director, Community Labor United in Boston
• Cynthia Jarrold, Federal Policy Coordinator for the Gamaliel National Campaigns, Transportation Equity Network
• Representative of ATU
• Representative of Colorado FRESC
• Representative of TWU

Building Labor-Community Partnerships at State Federations and Central/Area Labor Councils

Room 405

Three case studies will illustrate the role of labor participating in and building community labor alliances with nonprofit advocacy organizations and combinations. Issues these alliances addressed include economic development, political education and action (electoral, voter registration and candidate recruitment), research, union organizing, community housing and education development, school funding and specific community building such as supermarkets vs. Walmart. Presenters will address labor’s role as a convener, coalition partner (the good, the bad and the ugly) and resource provider and cover specific union involvement, use of political clout and perceptions and realities of labor’s role in these initiatives and community outreach.

Moderator: Richard Shaw, Secretary-Treasurer, Harris County (Texas) AFL-CIO Council

• Richard Barrera, Secretary-Treasurer, San Diego and Imperial Counties (Calif.) Labor Council
• Jeff Crosby, President, North Shore (Mass.) Labor Council
• Charlie Wowkanech, President, New Jersey State AFL-CIO

Common Sense Economics: Mass Education for a Mass Movement

Room 403-A

Join us for an interactive session on a new module from the Common Sense Economics curriculum. As part of this year’s Convention we will be rolling out an updated curriculum and we need your input! We need your feedback on what is needed to develop a full program and implement it with hundreds of thousands of workers, students and community partners. The new curriculum will have both online and classroom components that will include, among other issues, a focus on economic issues that impact younger workers, women and people of color.

Moderator: Al Davidoff, Director of Governance, Organizational and Leadership Development, Campaigns Department, AFL-CIO

• Sarita Gupta, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice
• Chris Michalakas, President, Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO
• Monica Bielski Boris, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Facebook 101: Getting Started

Boots Online Digital Booth

If Facebook was a physical location, it would be the third biggest country in the world. If you or your organization aren’t on Facebook, you may be missing out on a great way to tell the story of your work and our movement. Our social media expert will tailor this session for people who are just getting started. We’ll walk through step by step how you create a Facebook account and give you some tips to start loving social media.

• Jackie Tortora, Blog Editor/Social Media Manager, AFL-CIO

Global Organizing Partnerships: U.S. Unions and International Partners Organizing in the Global Economy

Room 306-A/B

This workshop will examine practical ways in which U.S. unions are jointly taking on the challenge of organizing workers employed by multinational corporations. Through presentations by the Solidarity Center and three case examples from current affiliate campaigns, participants will gain information on strategies and approaches to building power for workers employed by global corporations, tools and tactics and resources available to carry out campaigns. The case examples to be discussed will highlight innovative partnerships and will include presentations by union leadership and rank-and-file activists involved in the campaigns. Case studies will include the CWA-ver.di partnership to build TU, the union for T-Mobile workers; the USW long-term strategy of building toward a merger with the National Union of Metal and Mine Workers of the Republic of Mexico (SNTMMSRM or Mineros); and the UNITE HERE strategic hotel sector campaign in the Accor hotel chain.

Moderator: Sarah McKenzie, Trade Union Strengthening Director, AFL-CIO Solidarity Center

• Larry Cohen, President, CWA
• Joshua Coleman, TU-CWA
• Ben Davis, International Affairs Director, USW
• Debbie Anderson, Director of International Affairs Department, UNITE HERE

Harnessing History: Innovative Responses to a Changing Capitalism

Room 406-A

In an age of corporate-driven globalization, austerity and attacks on unions, it often seems like workers today face insurmountable challenges. Yet today’s workers aren’t the first to feel all around them the effects of massive changes in capitalism. Labor history offers lessons in how workers tried to win power over their workplaces and lives in transformational times. Sometimes they won and sometimes they lost, and their histories offer powerful ideas and inspiration to workers and leaders who want to effect change today. This roundtable brings together a number of labor historians and practitioners to discuss three different times workers have faced shifting capitalism and to explore their innovative approaches. We’ll cover not only the history of labor institutions, but also broader worker and community solidarity efforts.

• Dan Katz, Dean of Labor Studies, National Labor College
• Heather Thompson, Professor, Temple University
• Lane Windham, Ph.D. candidate, University of Maryland

‘Inequality for All’: Sneak Preview Film Screening and Discussion

Solidarity Stage 2

The feature film “Inequality for All” explores the causes and consequences of the widening income gap in America and asks what it means for the future of our economy and our nation. Featuring Robert Reich as its narrator, the film had its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and is being released in theaters around the county on Sept. 27. This session will preview the film, provide a chance for discussion and let folks know about ways to use local showings as organizing events.

• Wendy Cohen
• Sebastian Dungan, Producer

Jobs to Move America: National Partnership to Boost U.S. Manufacturing and Create Good Jobs in the Transportation Industry

Room 408-B

Over the past year, TTD and the AFL-CIO have supported Los Angeles-based LAANE in its development of a national, community-based operation designed to create jobs and economic activity through transportation manufacturing. LAANE has developed—in partnership with economists, community development and advocacy groups, veterans’ groups and labor—a U.S. employment plan that enables transit agencies to offer manufacturers a voluntary incentive designed to reward companies that commit to re-shore manufacturing and spur good American jobs, creating access and opportunities for disadvantaged people and small businesses. This session will involve a brief overview of the work done on the U.S. Employment Plan, followed by a discussion on the intersection of policy and politics in implementing this plan with specific procurements going forward. The discussion will focus on how political leverage, through a shared strategy with LAANE and its partners, will be effective in implementing sound procurement policy and advancing job and organizing opportunities.

Moderator: Elizabeth Bunn, Director, Organizing Department, AFL-CIO

• Madeline Janis, National Policy Director, LAANE
• Jorge Ramirez, President, Chicago Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
• Ed Wytkind, Executive Director, TTD

Labor Law for the Modern Economy: Past Challenges, Future Strategy

Room 404-A

This action session will give participants the tools to explain why fundamental reform of our nation’s labor laws is essential to the continued existence of vibrant labor organizations. It will explore the failures of the current laws and examine past efforts at reform and why they failed. Participants will leave the session better prepared to build the broad coalition that will achieve such reform.

• Craig Becker, General Counsel, AFL-CIO
• Bill Samuel, Director of Government Affairs, AFL-CIO
• Pastor Bridie Roberts, CLUE LA
• Liz McElroy, Secretary-Treasurer, Philadelphia Council of the AFL-CIO

No Workplace? No Problem! Building the Union Movement in the New Economy

Solidarity Stage 1

This interactive panel discussion will address the pervasive challenges unions face as traditional workplaces and work schemes shift beyond the factory wall and beyond the traditional employer/employee relationship. The action session will examine and highlight dynamic and creative organizing success stories of workers in nontraditional workplaces under nontraditional work schemes such as subcontracted, temporary, independent provider, outsourced or other forms of contingent employment. Participants and panelists will draw out best practices from the session to better equip the labor movement with the tools to organize in the new economy.

Moderator: Tom Egan, Senior Program Officer, Trade Union Strengthening, AFL-CIO Solidarity Center

• Justin Molito, Director of Organizing, WGAE
• Janice Fine, Associate Professor, Rutgers University
• Doug Moore, Executive Director, United Domestic Workers, AFSCME
• Johanna Hester, Director of Organizing and Field Services, United Domestic Workers, AFSCME

OUR Walmart: Change Jobs, Change Retail and Change the World!

Room 402-B

In this workshop, organizers will lead a discussion about the key lessons from the OUR Walmart campaign’s worker-centered organizing. Raising standards for retail workers worldwide requires raising the standards of the largest retail employer in the world, Walmart. Participants in this brainstorming and fact-finding workshop will learn more about Walmart, OUR Walmart and how the campaign’s approach can be applied to other organizing. Explore creative ways workers can organize around issue-based fights, moving to action on a larger scale.

• Andrea Dehlendorf, Making Change at Walmart
• Eddie Iny, Making Change at Walmart
• Walmart Workers, Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart)

Policy Initiatives That Enable Organizing: Living Wage and PLA Campaigns

Room 402-A

Many cities have passed laws ensuring worker standards not only for government workers but in targeted industry sectors. These laws raise the floor for nonunion workers and create opportunities for new organizing. Southern California has seen a number of these efforts, and the hotel workers and building trades have been leaders. UNITE HERE has fought and won six living wage campaigns, and currently is running a campaign for a $15 living wage for hotel workers in Los Angeles. The building trades have won campaigns for project labor agreements totaling more than $13 billion worth of work in Los Angeles County alone. Leaders and workers from unions will talk about lessons learned and how they’ve gained community and political support to win.

Moderator and Speaker: James Elmendorf, Deputy Director, LAANE

• Derek Smith, Political Director, UNITE HERE
• Uyen Le, Outreach and Compliance Officer, IBEW Local 11
• Alton Wilkerson, member, IBEW Local 11

Union Veterans, You’ve Served Your Country: Make Your Voice Heard!

Room 404-B

This session is for veterans, members of military families and all who would like to learn more about the issues facing veterans in today’s workforce. Representatives from the Vietnam Veterans of America, Helmets to Hardhats, VoteVets and the AFL-CIO’s Union Veterans Council will discuss how as union members we can be powerful advocates to improve the lives of veterans and their families. The session will be informative and will include a question-and-answer period for delegates and guests. If you are a veteran or someone you care about is a veteran, please join us.

Moderator: James Gilbert, Director, Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO

• Darrell Roberts, Executive Director, Helmets to Hardhats
• Jon Soltz, Chairman, VoteVets
• John Rowan, President, Vietnam Vets of America

Winning and Building Over Time: Winning in California and You Can, Too

Room 403-B

Learning from defeats and a long string of Republican governors, the California Labor Federation formed a Strategic Planning Committee in 2005. Since then, campaign cooperation and accountability among unions have dramatically increased, and election victories have increased, too—including the defeat of several well-funded (by Koch brothers and others) anti-union initiatives. In addition to the massive campaign to Defeat Prop. 32, labor also helped win a progressive tax measure, two-thirds legislative majorities and four new Democratic seats in Congress. Leaders will present on how the Strategic Planning Committee process has helped build labor’s political power, including challenges and lessons learned.

Moderator and Speaker: María Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor

• Lou Paulson, President, California Professional Firefighters, IAFF
• Willie Pelote, California Political/Legislative Director, AFSCME
• Jim Araby, Executive Director, UFCW Western States
• Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, California Labor Federation
• Tim Paulson, Executive Director, San Francisco Labor Council

Check out for a full convention schedule.