Today is the final day of the AFL-CIO's Constitutional Convention, a convention that saw NYSUT leaders take the lead on some key union initiatives. The AFL-CIO is one of NYSUT's national affiliates.
NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi, who led his delegation at the Los Angeles Convention Center, addressed the importance of a strong grassroots labor movement. He called on the 4,000 AFL-CIO delegates to support their central labor councils and state federations as a way to increase their power to advocate for issues vital to working families.
"We must continually strive to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and responsiveness of our grass roots operations," said Iannuzzi.
Vice President Maria Neira spoke in favor of a resolution in support of comprehensive immigration reform and the desire of educators to ensure the promise of a public education for all children, including the children of immigrants. "The time to fix our broken immigration system is now," she said.
Kathleen Donahue, the NYSUT vice president who oversees the union's Retiree Services, urged delegates to support a resolution to protect Social Security. Donahue chastised corporations and big businesses that use bankruptcy laws to circumvent their pension obligations. "We must change the debate from an attack on Social Security and pensions to guaranteeing retirement security for all," she said.
Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler spoke Wednesday in strong support of a resolution calling for free elections in Honduras. Cutler described civil and human rights violations leading up to the vote in that nation. Public employees are being especially targeted, he said.
In other business, delegates re-elected Richard Trumka as the AFL-CIO president. Also elected to the leadership team were Elizabeth Shuler as secretary-treasurer, who will serve her second term, and Tefere Gebre as executive vice president.
Speakers throughout the week have included U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez; Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in economics; U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; and AFT President Randi Weingarten.
President Barack Obama also addressed the delegates through a video in which he supported workers' right to organize.
NYSUT members can follow the convention online at http://www.aflcio.org/Blog and http://www.aflcio.org/About/Exec-Council/Conventions/2013.
Also, take part in the conversation on Twitter with hashtag: #aflcio13. Iannuzzi is also tweeting from the convention floor. Follow him at @RichardIannuzzi.