Labor's Voice for Change (48) June 30, 2009

15 Seats on AFL-CIO Executive Council
Are Available to Women and Minorities

By Harry Kelber

At least 15 union members, who are either women or “people of color” will be an exclusive group among the 43 candidates who will be elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council at the Federation’s quadrennial convention on September 14-17 in Pittsburgh.

This unusual concession is designed to guarantee the AFL-CIO’s commitment to diversity and to ensure that the Executive Council will be more truly representative of the actual union membership.

The principle of diversity has been enshrined in the AFL-CIO Constitution under Elections—VI, Section 1(f), which reads, in part:

“Any slate for vice president candidates presented to the convention during the nomination process shall devote no fewer than 15 positions to carrying out the commitment to an Executive Council that is broadly representative of the diversity of the membership of the labor movement, including its women members and its members of color.”

In the past three elections, John Sweeney and his allies on the Executive Council have distorted the meaning and significance of diversity, They have filled out their slate of 43 candidates with their own hand-picked and appointed people who rubber-stamped their decisions, while meeting their diversity quotas.

For years, Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and women have complained — with good reason — that they have almost no influence in the AFL-CIO’s policies and actions. Well, now is the time when they can actually improve their participation as key players in the labor movement by taking advantage of their rights under the AFL-CIO Constitution.

I am sending copies of this message to the chief officers of the AFL-CIO’s four interested constituency organizations:

Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW)
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU)
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)

It should be easy for each organization to recommend several articulate and knowledgeable activists as preferred candidates for Council membership.

How to Become a Favored Candidate for the AFL-CIO Council

The first step is to formalize your candidacy by sending a notarized letter to AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka, announcing you are a candidate for a vice president seat on the Executive Council, in accordance with the Federation’s position on diversity. Give your name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address. Also the name of your organization and whatever title you hold. Secretary-Treasurer Trumka’s mailing address is: AFL-CIO, 815 Sixteenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006.

Please contact me if you intend to become a candidate for a vice president seat on the Executive Council. I believe I can help you if any problems arise about your candidacy. My e-mail address is: My website: is

At the AFL-CIO convention, we expect new leaders to emerge, with fresh ideas and a clear vision of how to build a bigger and stronger labor movement.

The time for change is NOW!

In Solidarity,
Harry Kelber

Article 49 of “Labor’s Voice for Change” will be posted on Thursday. July 2.