AFL-CIO To Hold Its NEXT UP Young Worker Summit In March

The AFL-CIO, through its NEXT UP Program, is conducting its next Young Worker Summit, to be held in Chicago, March 19th to the 21st. This program, which the AFL-CIO began holding in 2010, appears to be an attempt by organized labor to grow the labor movement by reaching out to younger generations of employees to encourage them to become more active with organized labor.


It’s no secret that union membership has continued a steady decline over the last several decades. The latest statistics available from 2014 show that union membership among the private sector workforce is only 6.6%, a trend that has had organized labor teetering on the brink of irrelevance for years. Unfortunately for unions, younger generations of workers view unions like that of a compact disc or VCR or even a landline telephone. Sure they have heard about them and may have seen them at their parents’ or grandparents’ homes, but they have never had a use for them. However, with the bone that the NLRB has thrown to unions in the form of Quickie Elections and programs such as NEXT UP by the AFL-CIO and other unions, perhaps unions can make a comeback.


Over parts of four days, the participants will discuss issues young workers face as members of today’s workforce. The Summit is broken down into several forums and workshops in which different topics will be discussed. A few of the agenda items of note are the collective fight for social issues, such as racial justice, gender equity, and LGBTQ rights. These topics are apparently now considered “core labor issues.”


Other workshops will provide participants with the opportunity to discuss the different campaign platforms young workers have been involved with, whether it is union organizing, political, or some other issue.


There are also workshops that offer activism, mobilization, and leadership development. These skill-building exercises are geared to develop participants into effective organizers capable of uniting young workers and winning union elections.


The Summit will conclude with a strategy workshop in which the participants can develop an action plan to implement when they return to their home markets.


It’s hardly a coincidence that this Summit would commence mere weeks before the NLRB’s Quickie Elections rules, which barring judicial court intervention, will go into effect April 14, 2015. Unions are energized because of that and mobilization programs like this held by the AFL-CIO. Employers should anticipate an onslaught of union organizing likely led by young, energetic, newly indoctrinated organizers.


Best regards,


Travis Adams


Adams, Nash, Haskell & Sheridan