LaborTalk for March 9, 2012

AFL-CIO's Newly-Designed Website Emphasizes
'Culture of Openness' and Member Participation

By Harry Kelber

Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler has taken the initiative to redesign the AFL-CIO Website so that it meets the needs of current and future unions. She says: "We've got to commit to a culture of openness — building an inclusive movement that puts the voices of workers front and center and encourages all working families to get involved."

The new website creates a community space to share information, offer suggestions and take action. One significant improvement is the "En Español" site, which serves as a hub for Latin-Americans and their unions.

To enrich the website, the AFL-CIO will be investing in cutting-edge communications innovations and other technologies, Shuler says. "We've also made a big commitment to building new tools and a new team that will empower our members and activists to leverage the power of the Internet to mobilize their friends, neighbors and followers," she added.

Shuler is enthusiastic about how the new website will enable unions to grow. "We'll be working harder and smarter than ever before," she predicts. She urges union members to visit the new AFL-CIO website and view the progress that has already been made. "Lots of exciting things are coming, Shuler promises, and "I can't wait to tell you soon."

Does 'Openness' Mean an End to Secrecy and Censorship?

While union members are reacting favorably to upgrading the AFL-CIO website, many have questions that ought to be answered under the new policy of "openness." We want to know:

Has the AFL-CIO Executive Council voted in favor of giving Shuler a free hand to redesign the website at whatever expense she deems necessary? What staff changes on the website are contemplated?

Will topics like abortion and news about U.S. wars continue to be banned from the website? Will union members have the right to post critical comments about AFL-CIO policies?

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Shuler should be commended for her initiative in redesigning the AFL-CIO website so that union members not only become better informed but also develop a stronger bond with their leaders.

In the next few months, the new AFL-CIO website will be tested for its appeal to rank-and-file unionists. A lot will depend on the editorial team that Shuler intends to assemble.

One final question based on curiosity. Who is Charles, the man to whom Shuler wrote a letter? What does he have to do with the AFL-CIO website? Shouldn't we know about him as an example of openness?

LaborTalk will be posted here on March 12, 2012 and on our two web sites and on

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