IBEW 1245 member Lorenso Arciniega offered the following remarks from the convention floor in support of a resolution on youth and leadership development.
Today’s young workers are part of the largest generation to enter the workforce since the baby boomers. We also make up the most diverse and technologically savvy generation in America’s history. But we suffer the nation’s highest unemployment, and the fewest job opportunities in today’s economy. My generation of young workers is active, engaged and ready to reverse economic and social injustice. All of us must recognize that the continued strength and energy of the labor movement depends deeply on the ability of younger union members to develop into effective labor leaders.
It’s time to build on the 2009 Convention Resolution 55 and the AFL-CIO’s Next Up program, which ushered in dozens of start-up young worker groups across the country; two successful national summits of young workers, activists and community partners; a Young Worker Leadership Institute; and an electoral program that reached young workers as part of the Labor 2012 Political Program. These programs have inspired and supported young workers around the country to take action in their local communities. In my hometown of San Jose, young workers stood in solidarity with San Jose State students to raise the minimum wage. The effort started off as an idea in a college classroom — students themselves were working minimum wage jobs to pay the bills.
But with the support of the South Bay Labor Council, the idea turned into a robust labor-community partnership, bringing together young people, students, labor and a range of progressive allies. It was an amazing effort to be a part of, built solidarity in our community, and even better — raised the minimum wage by two dollars!