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.
John J. Sweeney became president emeritus of the AFL-CIO at the federation's constitutional convention in September 2009, stepping down after five terms as president. He was first elected president in 1995 on a platform of revitalizing the federation, which currently hasaffiliated unions and members, including members in Working America, its new community affiliate. The 1995 election was the first contested election in AFL-CIO history.
At the time of his election, Sweeney was serving as president of the Service Employees International Union, which grew from 625,000 to 1.1 million members during the 15 years of his leadership.
He was a vice president of the AFL-CIO and chair of the AFL-CIO Executive Council committees on Health Care and Organizing and Field Services. He was elected SEIU president in 1980.
Linda Chavez-Thompson was the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO from 1995-2009. She was the first person to hold the post of AFL-CIO executive vice president, and she was the first person of color to be elected to one of the federation’s three highest offices.