Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven A. Tolman on the Passing of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

“This morning, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 72. 

This is an extraordinarily sad day for our movement and for every worker in our nation. We stand in solidarity and grief with workers everywhere as we mourn his loss. 

Rich Trumka spent every day of his life fighting tirelessly to ensure all workers have dignity and respect on the job. He was a dear friend, a fierceless leader, and a champion for our movement. 

His impact on Massachusetts’ working people cannot be understated. He stood with us, his support unwavering, during our historic Stop & Shop strike in 2019 and so many other important fights over the years. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he led his movement through unprecedented times. And most recently, he helped elect the most pro-union president of our lifetime, who then appointed Boston’s own champion for working people as Secretary of Labor. Trumka knew, more than anyone I’ve ever known, the power of collective bargaining and the importance of the union difference.” 

He is a lion of labor, and we will miss him so dearly. And as our fight continues, we will carry the strength of his spirit with us. We will never forget him.

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Image Credit: Alex Brandon/Associated Press

On behalf of our 500,000 members across the Commonwealth, we are sad to learn of the passing of Joseph C. Faherty, who served as president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO from 1990-1998. Mr.

The AFL-CIO Executive Council today elected Liz Shuler, a visionary leader and longtime trade unionist, to serve as president of the federation of 56 unions and 12.5 million members. Shuler is the first woman to hold the office in the history of the labor federation. The Executive Council also elected United Steelworkers (USW) International Vice President Fred Redmond to succeed Shuler as secretary-treasurer, the first African American to hold the number two office. Tefere Gebre will continue as executive vice president, rounding out the most diverse team of officers ever to lead the AFL-CIO.

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU, thanked Biden for his support of the organizing drive. He said in statement, "As President Biden points out, the best way for working people to protect themselves and their families is by organizing into unions. And that is why so many working women and men are fighting for a union at the Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama." Appelbaum told NPR in January that the Bessemer warehouse workers wanted to join a union over concerns with grueling productivity quotas and wanted more input on workplace policies.

This afternoon, leaders of the labor movement gathered at the White House to meet with President Biden and Vice President Harris about our shared goal of revitalizing America’s infrastructure.

United Steelworkers (USW) member Jessica Hartung has a lot on her shoulders, but her load has been lightened by one thing in particular—her debt-free college degree. “I’m a single mom, with an autistic son. I have a full-time job, and COVID-19 has changed so much stuff,” said Hartung (not pictured). Despite her range of nonstop responsibilities, it has always been important to her to finish her college degree. For her, the most significant obstacle was the cost.

On Monday in Alabama, more than 5,800 of them will be able to vote on whether to become the first Amazon warehouse in the United States to unionize. "Now it's our turn to be a disruptor," said Elizabeth Shuler, secretary-treasurer and second highest-ranking officer of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States. It's a big day for the AFL-CIO. Not only is it providing guidance to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is organizing the Amazon warehouse workers.

California School Employees Association (CSEA) member Jacob Rodriguez leapt at the chance to join his school district’s information technology department when a position opened up. The only catch was that he was a substitute custodian and didn’t have a college degree yet. “I promised them I’d go back to school to get more qualified,” Rodriguez said. Thanks to the Union Plus Free College Program, Rodriguez was able to complete his associate degree free of charge, graduating in December 2020.

"We are going to insert ourselves at every table,” Shuler said. “If we don’t get workers to the table, there’s going to be more of what Trump tapped into,” she said, in reference to angry voters who feel left behind by globalization. “Training works better when you talk to workers. They can tell you what will and won’t work when automating. We’re not always hostile — we can be collaborators and make it go well,” she said.

Amazon is the great white whale, a target that labor groups have longed for years to organize, said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, which is providing personnel and strategic guidance to aid the RWDSU. “We’ll give them whatever they need to help them win,” Trumka said. “It’s an important, important drive.”

Read the full article in the Washington Post.

John Sweeney, who led an era of transformative change in America’s labor movement, passed away Feb. 1 at the age of 86. Sweeney was one of four children born to Irish immigrants in a working-class Bronx neighborhood shortly after the Great Depression. His parents, James and Agnes Sweeney, worked as a bus driver and a domestic worker, respectively. Sweeney always understood the struggles and the pride of working people.