Friday, August 27, 2021
With the tragic death of the AFL-CIO's President Richard Trumka, Liz Shuler has been elected President of the labor federation.Shuler grew up in a union household-her father, Lance, was a power lineman and longtime member of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 125 at Portland General Electric and her late mother, Joyce, worked as an estimator in the company's service and design department. In 1993, Shuler was hired as an organizer at Local 125. When energy giant Enron Corp. tried to muscle electricity deregulation through the Oregon Legislature, Shuler worked with a broad-based coalition of labor, community and environmental activists to challenge and ultimately overcome Enron's powerhouse lobbying campaign, a victory that sparked her passion for mobilizing workers to make change even when faced with overwhelming odds.
In 1998, Ed Hill, then-secretary-treasurer of the IBEW, assigned Shuler to California where she mobilized IBEW members to help defeat Prop. 226, the so-called paycheck protection initiative that threatened to silence union members in the political process. That victory prompted John J. Barry, then president of the IBEW at that time, to hire her as an international representative in the union's Political/Legislative Affairs Department in Washington, D.C. In that role, Shuler ran grassroots political mobilization efforts and lobbied Congress on a range of issues important to working families. In 2004, she was promoted to assistant to the international president, where she served President Hill, who had succeeded to that position, in driving the agenda of the nearly 1-million member union.
In 2009, she joined forces with Trumka, becoming the first woman elected to the position of secretary-treasurer at an AFL-CIO convention and the youngest woman ever on the federation's Executive Council. As secretary-treasurer, she also served as the chief financial officer, turning deficits into surpluses and steering the federation through multiple fiscal crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to her stewardship of the federation's finances, Shuler led the AFL-CIO's initiatives on the future of work, retirement security, the clean energy economy, public safety reform, workforce development, and empowering women and young workers. She is committed to busting myths about labor, leveraging the labor movement's diversity for innovative approaches to social justice and making the benefits of a union voice on the job available to working people everywhere.
Congratulations Liz and make all of the IBEW members from around the country proud.