By Mike Gutwig
Portland native Liz Shuler was elected president of the national AFL-CIO Aug. 20 by the federation’s Executive Council. She succeeds Richard Trumka, who died of a heart attack on Aug. 5. Shuler, who has served as secretary treasurer of the AFL-CIO since 2009, is the first woman to hold the office of president.
“I am humbled, honored and ready to guide this federation forward,” Shuler said following the election.
The Executive Council also elected United Steelworkers International Vice President Fred Redmond to succeed Shuler as secretary-treasurer. He is the first African American to hold the number two office.
Shuler got her start in 1993 at Portland-based IBEW Local 125 as an organizer and communications director. Her father was a power lineman and longtime member of Local 125.
In 1998, the IBEW international union hired her for a political assignment in California. By 2004 she had been promoted up the ranks to assistant to the international president.
In 2009, she joined forces with Trumka, becoming the first woman elected secretary-treasurer at an AFL-CIO convention and the youngest woman ever on the Executive Council.
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.
Her term as president runs through June 2022, when delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention in Philadelphia will elect leaders for new four-year terms.