It should come as no surprise that the theme of the 26th Biennial Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Convention, which concluded on Wednesday, was “Good Jobs Now!” These are trying times for workers. High unemployment is crushing the dreams of millions of families. Millions more are bringing home smaller paychecks and have fewer benefits. Meanwhile, companies are sitting on record profits and cash reserves. Yet the mood of the convention was optimistic as delegates representing 250,000 Wisconsin workers in over 1,000 affiliated unions chose new leadership and committed to a plan of action.
“We don’t think Labor’s best days are behind us. In fact, we believe the time is right to inspire a new generation to fight for justice and prosperity for all workers. Together we can turn a new page in the history of Wisconsin’s labor movement,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, the newly elected President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.
Prior to Monday’s election, Neuenfeldt had served four terms (16 years) as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. Stephanie Bloomingdale, who was until recently the Public Policy Director for the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Care Professionals, AFT, was elected to the office of Secretary-Treasurer. Neuenfeldt and Bloomingdale ran on a detailed “Solidarity Wisconsin” platform.
“Solidarity Wisconsin is the vehicle through which Wisconsin’s workers will build a bridge to a new era for organized labor in our state,” explained Bloomingdale. “We are guided by the principle that each union is only as strong as our overall movement. We commit ourselves to this important work in the firm belief that working people must organize and stand together in order to be fairly paid for the work that we do.”
“Moving forward, we will honor the struggles of the union brothers and sisters who went before us, and recognize that their hard-won gains on behalf of the labor movement are under assault,” pledged Neuenfeldt. “We will stand together to mount an aggressive response to the challenges of the 21st century and bring justice and prosperity to Wisconsin’s working families.”
Other highlights of the convention included a speech by national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and remarks by AFL-CIO endorsed political candidates including Sen. Russ Feingold, Rep. Steve Kagen and gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett.
Over the course of three days, prominent speakers from academia and within the labor movement discussed a plethora of topics related to job creation and the economic power of Wisconsin working families including: international manufacturing and the need to renegotiate failed trade policies; the effective use of economic stimulus to retain existing jobs and spur job creation; the implementation of the health care reform bill and the long-term strategy to achieve quality, affordable health care for all; eroding retirement security and what can be done to reverse the trends; the need for sensible immigration reform; and corporate media consolidation and the implications for labor news coverage. The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance also introduced its first “Boots on the Ground” conservation project, in which union members will weld deer traps for a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources white-tailed deer study.
“Don’t be fooled; there is an economic recovery happening in America today — but it’s banks and businesses that are benefiting, not America’s working families,” warned President Neuenfeldt. “By developing a common agenda, coordinate strategy and hold each other accountable, I believe that working people can reign in Wall Street, and in the process, bring good jobs and a higher standard of living to Main Street.”
Click here to read the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Officer biographies.
(Top Photo: Secretary-Treasurer Stephanie Bloomingdale and President Phil Neuenfeldt on election night. Photo Credit: Connie Smith. Top Right Photo: President Neuenfeldt. Photo Credit: Jenissee Volpintesta. Left Photo: Secretary-Treasurer Bloomingdale. Bottom Right Photo: Newly sworn in Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Executive Board Members sing "Solidarity Forever." Photo Credit: Sara Wallenfang.
Convention photos are still being added to our Flickr page. For updates, visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wisaflcio/collections/72157625061807812/.)