AFL-CIO Executive Council Meeting Focuses on Women, Young Workers

 

The AFL-CIO’s Executive Council met on Feb. 18 in Houston, where AFSA President Diann Woodard, vice chair of the Committee on Women Workers, actively engaged in a discussion on economic security, paid sick days, family leave and pay equity. The committee emphasized the importance of women’s leadership and of the labor movement increasing its public role in women’s issues.

The committee also discussed its collaboration with the White House, which will host a conference on working families in June to foster a national dialogue on improving economic security and workplace policies for women. The committee offered the Executive Council the following action items:

  • revive the Ask a Working Woman survey to ensure accurate representation;
  • form a subcommittee on women’s leadership development in unions; and
  • engage in the White House Conference on Working Families and urge affiliate involvement to carry the message that women’s rights are workers’ rights.

Council members were updated on progress since the passage by delegates to the September 2013 AFL-CIO Convention of Resolution 19, “Investing in Our Future: Young Workers and Youth Engagement,” which was sponsored by the Civil and Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Women Workers and the Executive Council.

In accordance with Resolution 19, the AFL-CIO’s Next Up program and the Young Workers Advisory Council (YWAC) have focused on increasing the number of young worker groups and creating a new appointment and election process.

The YWAC currently is working toward:

  • engaging with Next Up and other affiliates, sharing best practices and encouraging activism among all young workers;
  • partnering with the AFL-CIO and the organization’s State Federation and CLC Advisory Committee to fold young worker development into those groups’ strategic plans, with the goal of tripling the number of young workers’ organizations over the next four years;
  • devising a process of electing young workers to the YWAC prior to assuming a seat on the AFL-CIO’s General Board; and
  • ensuring accountability of YWAC leaders.

In other action, the Executive Council discussed its support for Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn. Workers at the plant sought UAW representation, but the voting situation involved interference from politicians and other special interest groups, leading to a vote against unionization. AFL-CIO’s message to the Volkswagen workers encourages action in the future: “When you stand up for yourselves, you stand up for everyone who works and you will never be alone.”

The Executive Council also awarded the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) with the 2014 Meany-Kirkland Human Rights Award. BWI advocated for migrant workers during construction for the Sochi Olympic Games in Russia and continues to advocate for workers in Brazil during ongoing construction for the 2014 World Cup. BWI organizes agreements between hundreds of unions to get workers fair pay despite international borders.