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IATSE Participates in National Labor Leadership Initiative

During the past year, International Trustee and Director of Education and Training Patricia White represented the IATSE in a new leadership program, begun by the AFL-CIO in partnership with the Cornell Worker Institute called the National Labor Leadership Initiative. AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka founded this program in response to the turbulent conditions confronting workers and unions in the 21st century. The purpose of the National Labor Leadership Initiative (NLLI) is to create a community of leaders dedicated to their individual and mutual learning and development, the strengthening and transformation of the organizations they serve, and the building of a broad progressive movement that empowers working people in a rapidly changing world.

The National Labor Leadership Initiative attempted to consider three interdependent domains of leadership: “Personal Qualities of Leadership,” “Leading and Transforming Your Organization,” and “Building an Inclusive and Dynamic Movement.” Each topic was covered extensively during three separate one week retreats, held between November 2013 and June, 2014. Intensive followup with faculty, field application, peer coaching and network-building took place continuously between sessions.

The NLLI was created from President Trumka’s notion that rather than Labor’s merely being swept up in the inertia of what has gone before, there needs to be a focus on proactivity and planning. We need to reach into and befriend the progressive institutions that promote the rights of common people, workers, immigrants, students, and the middle class. As a whole, Labor can make any choices we want to make, but we must make them intentionally.

President Loeb has already challenged every Local and every member to stretch themselves to learn and grow to adapt to change, to vote and give to our PAC and to become an activist. Obviously, we have an affirmative obligation to represent our members, and to provide traditional services to the workers who support us with their dues. But we also need to respond to President Trumka’s call to think strategically, partner with our friends, talk to those who may not immediately seem to be allies, and strategize about how to use our resources to turn back the tide of conservative policies and propaganda.

President Loeb and the General Executive Board took a very positive step when they voted for the IATSE to take part in the NLLI. General Secretary-Treasurer Wood will participate in this year's cohort. In the months to follow, some of the material presented will make its way into some of the leadership training presented by the IATSE. Additionally, the alliances and friendships made with the other participants are a resource which we will be able to draw upon, if needed, in the future. Teachers from the program will be working in our IATSE education sessions.