What I Do
Christy McGill, Art Teacher - Divide Elementary School, Lookout, WV.
On Sept.16, 2009, Richard L. Trumka was elected president of the AFL-CIO by acclamation at the federation’s 26th convention in Pittsburgh, Pa. His election, following 15 years of service as the AFL-CIO’s secretary-treasurer, capped Trumka’s rise to leadership of the nation’s largest labor federation from humble beginnings in the small coal mining communities of southwest Pennsylvania.
Twelve-year-old Richard Louis Trumka was sitting on the porch of his grandfather Attilio Bertugli’s house in Rices Landing, Pa., complaining bitterly to his grandpap about how badly Mine Workers were being treated. It was the 1960s, and the miners were on strike.
“What do you plan to do about it?” his grandfather asked.
“When I grow up, I could be a politician,” Rich replied. His grandpap feigned smacking him across the back of his head. Chastened, young Trumka offered a second opinion: “I could become a lawyer and stand up for workers’ rights.”
His grandfather, a longtime miner, allowed how that was a better idea, but added something that has stuck with Trumka ever since. “If you want to help workers,” his grandfather said, “you first need to help people.”
Rich Trumka not only grasped the wisdom of his grandfather’s counsel, it has been the encompassing vision of his leadership in the labor movement ever since: Unions must strive to uplift everybody in their pursuit of fair treatment for workers, as they did in building the world’s strongest middle class, and as they must once again by leveling the playing field and restoring job growth and prosperity for working people.
Elizabeth Shuler is the current secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, one of three top-level officers for the federation. The first ever woman elected to the position in 2009, Shuler also holds the distinction of being the youngest officer ever to sit on the federation's Executive Council. Coming from Portland, Oregon, Shuler has been at the forefront of progressive labor initiatives like green job programs and the fight for workers' rights for many years, starting as an organizer at her local union.
Prior to her election as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, Shuler was part of the Executive Leadership team of the Electrical Workers (IBEW). At the IBEW, she was in charge of 11 major departments and an adviser for the international president. As chief financial officer of the federation, Shuler oversees six administrative departments and is leading the federation's young worker outreach initiative as well as its repositioning efforts. Secretary-Treasurer Shuler also represents the AFL-CIO on various boards and committees, including the Women's Committee at the International Trade Union Confederation.
Arlene Holt Baker’s outstanding leadership since being appointed to replace retired AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson was rewarded with election by acclamation to serve a full term in the office by delegates to the AFL-CIO’s 26th Convention on Sept. 16, 2009.
Holt Baker's commitment to activism on behalf of working families has been a source of strength that has empowered her to overcome challenges and disappointments that might have deterred a leader of lesser mettle.
As a grade schooler in Fort Worth, Texas, Holt Baker revered President John F. Kennedy. So she was thrilled that her mother got her released from school to travel to the parking lot across the street from the Texas Hotel where she heard Kennedy speak briefly before heading off in his motorcade.
Thanks - Your submission was sent!