Liz Shuler Is Named President of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.

on Aug21
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The A.F.L.-C.I.O. has chosen Liz Shuler, its acting president since the death of Richard Trumka this month, to lead the federation until it holds elections next year.

Ms. Shuler had served as secretary-treasurer, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s second-ranking official, since 2009.

The decision to name Ms. Shuler president came at a meeting of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. executive council on Friday, which Ms. Shuler was obligated to call within a few weeks of Mr. Trumka’s death under the federation’s constitution. Ms. Shuler is the group’s first female president.

“I believe in my bones the labor movement is the single greatest organized force for progress,” Ms. Shuler said in a statement. “This is a moment for us to lead societal transformations — to leverage our power to bring women and people of color from the margins to the center — at work, in our unions and in our economy, and to be the center of gravity for incubating new ideas that will unleash unprecedented union growth.”

Before becoming the federation’s secretary-treasurer, Ms. Shuler held a variety of roles with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. She said in an interview the day after Mr. Trumka’s death that she had been preparing for years to lead the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and that she expected to be a candidate for a full four-year term next June.

“You don’t just show up one day and ask for support — the groundwork has been laid for years,” she said. “I studied under the best, and I am ready to lead.”

Union presidents and senior A.F.L.-C.I.O. staff members have spent years debating the proper role of the federation, with some arguing that it should mostly coordinate among its member unions and help advance their shared priorities in Washington and state legislatures. Others argue that the federation should play a leading role in organizing new workers and building alliances with progressive groups, like those promoting civil rights.

Mr. Trumka, known for his close relationship with President Biden, was primarily associated with the first view during his later years as A.F.L.-C.I.O. president. Ms. Shuler is also identified with this approach, although she stressed in the interview that adding union members was a priority and has supported organizing initiatives in the past.

Some officials who favor more emphasis on organizing want Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, to lead the federation.

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