Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Elects New President, Secretary-Treasurer

Convention delegates adopt the “Solidarity Wisconsin” vision with jobs at the top of their agenda

(Green Bay, WI)  It should come as no surprise that the theme of the 26th Biennial Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Convention, which concluded today, 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-elect 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.”

began his career with fourteen years in the manufacturing sector where he was elected shop steward, and he still believes that making things in Wisconsin is key to long-term prosperity and a viable middle-class.  As an active member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Phil fought for fair contracts, improved health and safety conditions, and economic development that benefited union workers as well as the community at large.  He held various positions of leadership in his local union, including Chair of the bargaining committee.

Prior to his election as President, Phil served the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO in many capacities, most notably as Secretary Treasurer and Legislative Director.   As Legislative Director, Phil put the Wisconsin labor movement on the offensive and advanced a working family agenda which included extending the ability to organize, workers’ rights, installing prevailing wage protections, defending the Family and Medical Leave Act, teaching labor education in the schools, creating fairer tax codes which close corporate loopholes, preventing the outsourcing of public services, creating and retaining manufacturing jobs, and adopting green energy initiatives which will include family-wage jobs.

Because individual workers and the labor movement as a whole must continuously evolve to keep up with changing conditions, Phil continues to develop strategies to upgrade workplace skills and address changes in technology and the economy.  Some of his programs have been used as national models.

As a veteran and a father, Phil has deep roots in his community.  His vision for the labor movement extends beyond current union members, and Phil continues to take on projects that expand the sphere of solidarity and improve the lives of all working families.  Even beyond his union activity, he plays an active development and implementation role within the nonprofit community.

SECRETRARY-TREASURER STEPHANIE BLOOMINGDALE has more than 20 years of experience in labor as an organizer, negotiator, trainer, and activist. As Director of Public Policy for the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, she held a key role in the struggle to strengthen the power of nurses and healthcare workers throughout Wisconsin. In arbitrations and grievance hearings, she is known as a tough negotiator. In her electoral work, she has a statewide reputation for managing effective voter mobilization campaigns and holding elected officials accountable.

During a career that began as an activist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Stephanie has been committed to the ideals of organized labor and the power of collective action to create a strong middle-class. She is dedicated to building grass-roots, member-driven campaigns that advocate for social and economic justice for everyone.
Stephanie was raised by working-class parents who often struggled but always believed in hard work and education.

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