NFFE Joins Young Workers in Chicago

Last month, over a thousand young workers, activists, and community partners gathered in Chicago, IL from to learn more about the Labor Movement, build young worker solidarity, and provide service to the local community. The three day summit was hosted by the AFL-CIO, entitled the Next Up Summit, was coordinated by the Young Worker Advisory Council (YWAC), a coalition of young labor leaders from dozens of unions throughout the country that NFFE Business Representative Amy Burns sits on.
This year’s Next Up Summit, the third convened by the AFL-CIO, saw the largest congregation of young workers yet. As young people from nearly every state, Canada, and Puerto Rico assembled in downtown Chicago, they were enthusiastically greeted by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer Liz Schuler, and many Chicago political and labor leaders. The theme of this year’s summit called young workers to, “Educate. Aspire. Organize.” And that’s just what the young passionate labor leaders who attended did during their stay in Chicago.
The AFL-CIO, YWAC, and participating community partners took their responsibility to offer comprehensive training to our nation’s emerging labor leaders seriously. Over 80 workshops were designed by and for young workers, catering to unionists at all levels of skill and involvement. Some of the most popular workshops included, “Parents Just Don’t Understand: Building Generational Unity in the Labor Movement” and “A Young Workers Guide to the Galaxy.” NFFE’s Amy Burns, a YWAC member and coordinator of the Young Federal Leaders (YFL) initiative, participated in planning and facilitating the Summit and taught workshops throughout the conference.
On Saturday, March 22 the labor movement’s next up leaders had an opportunity to use their newly acquired skills and knowledge to directly impact communities in the Chicago area. Participants were able to choose one of several direct actions, including a rally for the Fight for 15 campaign, an organizing campaign at Zara and Guitar World, and a canvassing effort for a local teacher and unionist in her bid for Alderman. The presence of hundreds of young activists at these efforts bolstered community support and increased visibility for the ongoing campaigns in the area.
While the Summit lasted just a few short days, the young unionists who came to Chicago to learn and lead will return home to their local lodges and communities with a renewed fervor to bring justice and opportunity for young workers to the labor movement. Do your part to support our future by recruiting, encouraging, and mentoring young workers in your local lodges.

Members of the Young Worker Advisory Committee welcome Next Up conference attendees