Following the recent death of Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO since 2009, Liz Schuler, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer, was appointed as the organization’s new President. This was a historical feat, as she became the first woman to be elected president of the federation.
Fred Redmond was then appointed to fill Schuler’s role as AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer. He became the first African American to hold the position, the second highest ranking position within the AFL-CIO.
Just days after his appointment, Redmond joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss his goals and aspirations for the position, and what it means to have a minority-led AFL-CIO for the first time in history.
The highest ranking African American in organized labor
Redmond is currently the International Vice-President for International Affairs of the Steelworkers Union, a position he will concurrently serve while fulfilling his duties as AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer. He has been a member of the Steelworkers since 1973 and has served on the federation’s Executive Council since 2008.
As Secretary-Treasurer, Redmond will maintain financial and fiduciary responsibilities within the AFL-CIO, as the federation’s Constitution stipulates a strong system of checks and balances between financing of the president’s office and the secretary-treasurer’s office, Redmond said.. He will also help assist President Schuler with her duties.
Both Redmond and Schuler will maintain their new positions until June, when delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention in Philadelphia will elect leaders for new four-year terms.
Passage of the PRO Act, midterm elections remain top priorities
Redmond said the first priority for the labor movement will be to pass the PRO Act — pro-union legislation that will protect workers’ rights to organize. He is proud House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced last week the PRO Act will be named the Richard Trumka PRO Act as a testament to Trumka’s work to reform labor laws in this country.
The second priority of the labor movement is the 2022 mid-term election and increasing pro-worker margins in the U.S. House and Senate in order to successfully pursue President Biden’s agenda, which is progressively pro-labor, Redmond added.
A newly diverse face of labor
Redmond is proud to be the first African American to hold the position of AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer and proud to work alongside the federation’s first female President. He said the two of them will work together as an unconventional team in these unconventional times in order to pursue union goals. Civil rights and union rights are intertwined and mutually beneficial, Redmond explained.
Redmond said he is proud that Schuler and he received unanimous support from the Executive Board. This is a time for unity because much needs to be done to protect workers and the right to organize.
Organizing, passing the PRO Act and addressing so-called “Right to Work” laws are key priorities. The federation will continue to have critical conversations with leaders in order to propel these issues moving forward, he said.