Young labor activists to meet in Washington, D.C.

Young activists and union workers are expected to meet in Washington, D.C., June 10-13, during a national young workers summit hosted by the AFL-CIO.

The summit called “Next Up” is said to be the first of its kind that will bring young people under age 35 together to discuss ways in which they can help lead the labor movement forward.

Organizers say the gathering will address current issues and cement ideas to continue making the modern labor movement even more relevant to the next generation of young workers.

The “Next Up” summit is the culmination of five-city listening tour by leaders in the AFL-CIO and will become the kick-off of a long-term outreach program for working people under age 35.

Young labor leaders and activists hope to share ideas and experiences in order to learn how to become more engaged with working people in general in local communities nationwide.

AFL-CIO officers and labor leaders will meet with young activists during the summit to hear their concerns and feedback about what challenges youth face these days.

“We’re experiencing the economic crisis – but young workers have been hurt disproportionately,” said Liz Shuler, AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer in a statement. “Young people need the union movement and we need young workers to be engaged. Participants at the young workers summit are going to develop an action plan and identify more of what we need to do to make sure we’re fully integrating and calling upon our young members.”

Over the last several months Shuler met with young workers across the country in five different cities. She listened to what they had to say about the issues they face at the workplace and in their unions. Passionate and often creative ideas about how to address those issues were shared. Those forums set the stage for the summit and the labor movement’s commitment to outreach and include young workers.

A survey conducted by the AFL-CIO found that only 31 percent of 18- to 35-year-olds makes enough money to cover their bills and put some aside. Almost a third are uninsured and one in three still live at home with their parents.

A similar study recently released by the Economic Policy Institute notes the emerging challenges facing jobless young workers, which lack a safety net and often don’t qualify for unemployed benefits.

The AFL-CIO says it is committed to a long-term, sustainable young worker program whose objectives are to attract, engage and empower young workers.

Organizers of the “Next Up” summit say it will encourage a space for young union workers to join forces in the national fight for economic and social justice in the broader progressive movement.

Directed toward young workers text from an ad on the young workers summit’s website says, “You are ‘Next Up.’ Be at the Young Workers Summit in June and add your voice to our collective future.”

The website: has more information regarding the summit including agenda highlights and cool videos, Facebook and Twitter links. Registration is free, which includes breakfast, snacks/beverages during the day and two reception dinners.






Pepe Lozano
Pepe Lozano

Chicagoan Pepe Lozano was a staff writer with the People's World through 2014. He comes from an activist family and has lived on the city's southwest side in a predominantly Mexican-American community his whole life. Lozano now works as a union organizer.