The 26th AFL-CIO Convention will make history as delegates elect new leadership for the federation and chart a course for the 21st century union movement.
The convention will be held Sept. 13-17 in Pittsburgh, a city rich in labor history. Building on the incredible success of the union movement’s 2008 political mobilization, delegates will discuss how to maintain momentum and continue to increase the strength of working people.
For some delegates, the work will begin in the days before the convention. In the week prior to the opening gavel, the International Labor Communications Association (ILCA), the AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department, the Union Label Department and Pride At Work will hold their conventions in Pittsburgh.
At the State and Local Conference on Sept. 12, state and local leaders will discuss strategies to build the grassroots movement. And four years after the 2005 AFL-CIO Convention passed a landmark resolution on diversity in the union movement, delegates will discuss the progress in making the leadership more inclusive at the AFL-CIO’s Diversity Summit on Sept. 13.
Two items high on the convention agenda are organizing and political action. We will focus on how to build the union movement and how to ensure passage of our top legislative priorities: health care reform and the Employee Free Choice Act. Delegates will chart out the next steps to ensure that Congress passes both pieces of legislation during this session.
With 47 million Americans lacking access to health care, the union movement has mounted an unprecedented campaign in support of real health care reform that includes a public health insurance option. At the same time, we are mobilized to pass the most extensive labor law reform in 70 years. A key discussion at the convention will center on how our work will change once the new law is enacted.
We will mark a major transition in the federation by electing new leadership. John Sweeney, who has led the AFL-CIO since 1995, is retiring, and delegates will choose his successor, as well as the other officers and all the Executive Council members.
Ensuring that the new wave of green jobs turns into good jobs will be on the agenda as well. The AFL-CIO is making a strong statement in favor of a green economy by holding its meeting in the David Lawrence Convention Center, the nation’s first all-green center.
Delegates also will participate in eight breakout forums on the economy, green jobs, organizing, politics, the next generation of union leaders, immigrant workers and professional workers.
To prepare for the new challenges facing the union movement, delegates will take up resolutions on the economy, green jobs, public employees, health care, retirement security, safe jobs, immigration reform, diversity in the union movement and women, work and family.
They also will hear a report on and discuss a resolution on the best ways to strengthen our state and local bodies—our grassroots strength. We will look at how the global economy and the worldwide economic crisis are affecting workers around the world.