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AFL-CIO Elects First Woman, African American Man To Top Leadership Positions

Liz Shuler will lead the AFL-CIO, the group announced Friday.
Stephen Bobb Photography
Liz Shuler will lead the AFL-CIO, the group announced Friday.

For the first time, the AFL-CIO has elected a woman and an African American man to leadership positions. Longtime trade unionist Liz Shuler will head the AFL-CIO, the group announced Friday. The federation also announced that Fred Redmond will be its next secretary-treasurer.

“I believe in my bones the labor movement is the single greatest organized force for progress,” Shuler said in a statement Friday afternoon.

She’ll take the position of longtime President Richard Trumka, who died earlier this month. Prior to her election, Shuler was the first woman to become secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. She grew up in a union household: Her father was a power lineman in Portland and her mother worked at the company as well, according to the group's announcement.

Redmond has been international vice president of the Pittsburgh-based United Steelworkers since 2006. The USW website said he’s been a union member since 1973, when he worked at Reynolds Metals Co. in Chicago.

“This is the right team at the right time to help bring about the economic and social justice America is hungry for,” Redmond said.

The federation’s announcement signaled a shift for the organization. AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre said unions are “the best vehicle to fight inequality, systematic racism, and attacks on our basic rights and freedoms.”

Both Redmond and Shuler will serve in the roles through June 2022, when delegates will decide whether to reelect them at their annual convention in Philadelphia.

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community.