If you’re a union member, you’ve probably been frustrated by the political class’s lack of understanding when it comes to the organizational structure of Montana Labor Movement. If you’re a member of the Montana political class, you’ve probably been confused and thrown your hands up in surrender.
Today, we’re going to explain the structure of the Montana AFL-CIO and dispel any confusion because it’s really pretty simple.
Lesson 1: Alphabet Soup
“AFL-CIO” stands for American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. The Montana AFL-CIO is affiliated with the national AFL-CIO based in Washington, D.C.
Lesson 2: Not a union
The Montana AFL-CIO is NOT a union. That’s right. Instead, the Montana AFL-CIO is a federation of unions, representing 35 Montana unions, 500 locals, and 50,000 workers and their families.
Simply put: The Montana AFL-CIO is an organization whose purpose is to further the collective mission of the union movement.
Lesson 3: Nickname
In the labor movement, the Montana AFL-CIO is commonly referred to as “the State Fed.” Why? Because the Montana AFL-CIO is the State Federation of Montana’s labor unions.
Lesson 4: The Montana AFL-CIO is a democratically (small d) run organization
The Montana AFL-CIO is directed by the Executive Secretary. The Executive Secretary is elected at conventions attended by delegates selected and sent from affiliated unions. The current Executive Secretary of the Montana AFL-CIO is Al Ekblad who was elected in 2011. Ekblad is a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local #400 (IOUE).
In addition to the Executive Secretary, the Montana AFL-CIO Executive Board has twelve members representing every corner of the state and several unions.
Currently, the Montana AFL-CIO Board and Staff are made up of members from the International Union of Operating Engineers, Montana Education Association and the Montana Federation of Teachers, Montana Public Employees Association, Service Employees International Union, Iron Workers, Laborers’ International Union of North America, United Steelworkers, Montana Nurses Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and International Association of Fire Fighters
Lesson 5: The Montana AFL-CIO is political
The Montana AFL-CIO makes political endorsements and invests significant resources in promoting a pro-worker agenda. The Montana AFL-CIO also lobbies on worker issues and facilitates the Labor Lobby during each legislative session.
Lesson 6: The Montana AFL-CIO is more than political
The Montana AFL-CIO is consistently engaged with affiliated unions in an effort to assist and support negotiations and organizing efforts across the state. Over the last year, the Montana AFL-CIO has helped grow union membership numbers, put pressure on corporations unwilling to negotiate with workers, and expanded the Labor Movement’s message outside of the union hall and into the community. More on all this in a future piece.