By GRAHAM TRAINOR, Oregon AFL-CIO president
The Oregon labor movement suffered a great and devastating loss on Feb. 27 when our sister and Oregon AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, Aida Aranda, passed away suddenly.
To say that she was a trailblazer or that she touched the lives of countless workers would be an understatement. To share how her warm smile, calm presence, and bold leadership made organizations she worked with better wouldn’t tell the full story either.
Many knew Aida through her 25-year career as a member of the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA). As a journey worker construction craft laborer, the foundation she built in the construction industry and the life-changing opportunity of a registered apprenticeship set her on an incredible path that would touch the lives of countless others. From a governor appointment to serve on the Oregon State Apprenticeship and Training Council, the Portland Metro Workforce Board, and the Portland Workforce Alliance, to serving and supporting various community
organizations like Oregon Tradeswomen, Constructing Hope, and Portland YouthBuilders, she always remained focused on helping others realize the same types of opportunities she had in her own career.
Aida’s leadership in the broader labor movement had been on display for years as a founding member of the Oregon Women Labor Leaders, a group devoted to empowering and elevating women in labor. As one of just a few women training directors within LiUNA’s national network of world-class apprenticeship programs, Aida was focused on ensuring those stubborn doors she had to push and fight her way through were propped wide open for more women and people of color in the future.
I’d had the good fortune of knowing Aida throughout my career in the Oregon labor movement. I canvassed with her for pro-union candidates. I watched her do everything in her power to organize new workers and grow her union. I saw her constantly show up for partners and causes and charities she believed in. Aida’s infectious smile, warmth, and energy truly brightened every space she entered. When she and I began talking about the possibility of her joining us as the next Oregon AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer and expanding her leadership, I knew without a doubt that her voice, experience, and leadership would be an incredible gift to the broader labor movement in the years ahead. On Dec. 8, when she was unanimously elected and became the first person of color to hold an officer position with the Oregon AFL-CIO, we were ecstatic about the work ahead for our movement and Aida’s role in that.
There is no way to fully and accurately describe what Aida’s sudden loss has meant and will continue to mean for the Oregon labor movement. However, there are a few things that I know with certainty:
- We are so grateful and honored to have had the time we did with Aida.
- We will all forever miss her friendship and the impact she had on everyone she met.
- Our movement was made stronger, more inclusive, and kinder because of Aida’s leadership and career.
Rest in light and power Sister Aida. We will do our best at honoring your vision and continuing the march toward a more just Oregon forever.
The Oregon AFL-CIO is a federation of labor unions.