AFL-CIO Is Hearing the New Voices of Organized Labor at LA Convention
Source Newsroom: Cornell University
Lowell Turner is the director of the Worker Institute at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and a former union representative from San Francisco. He comments on the heightened sense of purpose and spirit of inclusiveness being felt by participants in this week’s AFL-CIO national convention, which runs through Wednesday in Los Angeles.
“Tuesday morning we heard from Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz, a lucid, concise presentation on the impact of growing inequality. He spoke of an America for the 1 percent, of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, and backed up the analysis with accessible data. He argued that only shared prosperity is sustainable prosperity, called out the labor movement as a central player in turning things around.
“The convention’s tag line is ‘Dream, Innovate, Act,’ drawing inspiration from young immigrants fighting for the Dream Act, and this has very much set the tone for the gathering. I’ve been to many conventions but never to one where the message has been so dominated by a focus on diversity, inclusion, youth, coalition building, non-traditional and innovative forms of collective representation.
“Talk is cheap and, sure, there are old-school unionists here whose concern may stop at the interests of their own members. But that approach is overwhelmed and largely silenced at this convention. Discussion and debate reflects a deep understanding on the part of both traditional and non-traditional organizations of collective representation that the labor movement is going down if it doesn’t vastly broaden its scope.
“The atmosphere on the floor is inspiring, past limitations of union strategy are acknowledged, there is a collective call for inclusive revitalization of the labor movement that is quite impressive.”
Media note: Turner is one of three ILR faculty members from the Worker Institute at Cornell participating in the AFL-CIO national convention. Jeff Grabelsky, the director of ILR’s Construction Industry Program, and ILR Director of Labor Education Research Kate Bronfenbrenner are available for media interviews.
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