The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO 28th Biennial Convention

Welcome to:

The 2014 Convention in La Crosse!

Below we will have news and information as well as daily summaries from this year’s convention taking place from Monday, September 22nd through Wednesday the 24th at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. We’ll show you everything — policy positions, formal resolutions, speeches from state and national leaders, and of course candid photos. If you can’t make it to La Crosse, be sure to join us here for all the news and goings-on at this year’s Wisconsin State AFL-CIO 28th Biennial Convention.

Follow along with our live tweets from the convention floor.
Use #WIunion or #WIready @wisaflcio to join in the conversation!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 12:59pm

Visit Our Flickr Page for

Convention Shapshots

Thanks to all the delegates and speakers who made it to La Crosse. Visit our Flickr page for snapshots from the convention floor and informal moments from social gatherings surrounding this year’s 28th biennial Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Convention.

COPE Reception, Tuesday

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 10:39am

Summary of the Convention

A summary of events and speeches from all three days of the Wisconsin Is Ready Convention is available as a PDF here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 10:19am

From WXOW News 19 La Crosse

Sen. Baldwin talks jobs, wages at state AFL-CIO convention

By Jimmy Kruckow, MMJ

Delegates of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO gathered at the La Crosse Center for the 28th Annual Biennial Convention.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin was in attendance and spoke to the crowd. Hundreds of labor delegates from across the state listened and cheered on as Baldwin emphasized the importance of protecting Wisconsin workers by raising wages and building a labor movement for the state’s working people.

“Its all about jobs and its all about making hard work pay and about restoring faith in the American dream, where somebody who works hard, honest days work can get ahead and do so for their family too,” said Baldwin.

The two and a half day conference gives the organization the opportunity to plan innovative ways to lead the Wisconsin labor movement into the future.

From WXOW video.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 02:31pm

Mary Burke Stands with Workers

Wisconsin AFL-CIO endorsed gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke gave a rousing speech to Convention delegates as she heads into the final weeks of her campaign to unseat union-busting Gov. Scott Walker. The Convention floor was alive with energy and on its feet as Mary Burke took the stage to discuss her plan to create jobs and get Wisconsin’s economy back on track.

Mary Burke is ready to restore collective bargaining rights to public workers, raise Wisconsin’s minimum wage to $10.10, invest in education and infrastructure to create jobs.

Mary Burke exclaimed: “I’m going to be a governor who puts the people of Wisconsin ahead of big money special interest. I’m going be a governor who puts common sense ahead of the politics. Every single day I’m going to be working for the people of Wisconsin and I can’t wait to get to work.”

Wisconsin workers are ready to get to work, knock doors, make phone calls and leaflet worksites to have the vital one-on-one conversations about candidates that can put pro-worker candidates over the edge. Wisconsin is ready for a new direction. Wisconsin is ready for Mary Burke.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 12:13pm

From the La Crosse Tribune:

AFL-CIO’s Trumka decries Walker anti-union ‘poster boy’


Labeling Gov. Scott Walker the national “right-wing poster boy” for union-busting, national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka urged Wisconsin labor leaders to mobilize to defeat Walker in November.

“We have a choice — and I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of electing people who don’t represent workers,” Trumka told about 200 delegates to the state AFL-CIO’s 28th biennial convention, which began Monday at the La Crosse Center.

“This is our country, and this is our time, and it’s time we took it back for the workers of our country,” said Trumka, whose half-hour talk was interrupted several times by cheers and applause.

“Scott Walker gave Wisconsin a razor-sharp choice when he tore apart collective bargaining,” rejected Medicaid expansion and cut education funding, the union leader said.

Wisconsin unions that resisted Walker’s programs “inspired America” to a “new populism” that backs raising the minimum wage and increasing pay for all workers, regardless of union membership, Trumka said.

“The labor movement is perfectly positioned to lift our communities and raise wages,” he said.

“Raising wages will fuel a strong economy,” giving workers the wherewithal to resume buying, he said.

Walker favors billionaire donors such as the Koch brothers, and “he’ll keep caving to their right-wing agenda,” Trumka said.

The state AFL-CIO has endorsed Walker’s Democratic rival, Mary Burke, and the union’s 200,000 members statewide must redouble their efforts to secure her election Nov. 4, Trumka said.

“I’m going to give you tough love now,” he said, noting that Wisconsin locals have not fulfilled their commitment to releasing staff members to work on Burke’s campaign and for the election of other Democratic candidates, working shifts outside of company gates and staffing phones to electioneer.

“If you wake up on Nov. 5 and things haven’t changed, the next four years will be like the last four years,” Trumka said. “This guy is coming after us.”

The Wisconsin election has national implications, because Walker “was the first to double down on workers,” and GOP anti-union efforts have expanded because of his success, he said.

Burke is scheduled to speak this morning at the convention, which lasts through midday Wednesday. Other speakers will include including U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Democratic Wisconsin attorney general candidate Susan Happ.

Bill Brockmiller of La Crosse, president of the Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO, calls to order the state AFL-CIO’s 28th Biennial Convention on Monday at the La Crosse Center. Photo by Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 10:03am

In the News

WKBT La Crosse News 8000 covers the Convention and talks with Richard Trumka in this broadcast video piece.

Monday, September 22, 2014 05:28pm

Election Results!

Monday, September 22, 2014 05:03pm

President Neuenfeldt:

“Wisconsin is Ready for a Better Day”

After accepting his nomination and being re-elected for a second four-year term as President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, Phil Neuenfeldt brought the crowd to their feet on a motivating speech that recognized the achievements of Wisconsin workers, put forth the challenges facing the movement and laid out an agenda for moving forward.

“Here we are together, brothers and sisters, we are here to together take on the challenges and forge ahead together as workers indivisible,” said President Neuenfeldt. “The work we do here this week is important. Our labor moves the economy forward and our voices and union rights keep workers safe on the job. Unions give people who work dignity and respect and the chance to make a decent life, to make a decent go at it, to make a go at the every evasive American Dream that seems to be harder to hang on to for so many people.”

“We’re ready for a better day,” said President Neuenfeldt. “Wisconsin is ready to respect all those who labor a hard day’s work. Wisconsin is ready for good jobs and to give workers a raise. Wisconsin is ready brothers and sisters to elect honest legislators, to remove corrupt politicians and to restore democracy to our great state. Wisconsin is ready to bring back the middle class to make Wisconsin strong again.”

Monday, September 22, 2014 04:37pm

Secretary-Treasurer Bloomingdale:

Our Movement Breathes Life into the Soul of America

After accepting her nomination for another four year term as Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, Secretary-Treasurer Bloomingdale outlined the great divide between the haves and the haves-not and called out politicians for pushing policies that help billionaires over the working class.

Calling Paul Ryan and Scott Walker “out of touch” Bloomingdale called for delegates to lead and step up to the challenges ahead. Explaining that the movement is “stronger than the sum of its parts” Bloomingdale called on each and every delegate to get active to protect America’s middle class. “Our Labor movement helps improve the lives of individual workers, but in times like these, we bear a much greater burden. We are the creators and guardians of the American Middle Class, the rock on which our nation rests. This is the patriotic struggle of our generation. If we fail, if we sit by as our country degenerates into a land where a few hyper-rich individuals are allowed to grab a greater and greater share of our nation’s wealth at the expense of everyone else, we will have failed our union brothers and sisters who fought this fight before us. And we will have failed in our duty to preserve and pass on the possibility of a better life to our children.

Bloomingdale continued, “we are reminded once again that the very causes our union movement fights for, justice and dignity and equal opportunity for all, are what breathes life into the soul of America.”

Monday, September 22, 2014 04:35pm

From an original composition by

Pepe Oulahan, Machinists Local 66

Monday, September 22, 2014 04:33pm

The Nation’s

John Nichols

After entering the room to thunderous applause, journalist John Nichols brought down the house with a passionate speech condemning the policies of Governor Walker.

Nichols noted the many ways in which Scott Walker has decimated our great state. “When you lie to the people of a state, when you tell them that you will not attack unions, when you tell them you want the economy to grow and be healthy and you adopt different policies, eventually people wake up to the lie and they reject the liar.”

Nichols took the crowd through Walker’s decision to attack unions and rob public employees of their collective bargaining rights. He segued into Walker’s attacks on public education and his record billion dollar cuts to Wisconsin’s education system. He described Walker’s attacks on public services, failed austerity policies and how they have hurt Wisconsin workers. Nichols also ripped Walker for placing “his own political ambitions above the ethics of Wisconsin,” calling Scott Walker a “career politician who has no interest in governing and every interest in his next political race.”

Nichols ended his speech on an uplifting note. He reminisced about the hope he felt while watching the Act 10 protests and the strength of the movement it generated. In between numerous rounds of applause, he rallied union members about the importance of getting out the vote in November so Wisconsin can “end a period of failure and return to a period of solidarity and a period of economic and social justice.”

Monday, September 22, 2014 04:06pm

The Awards

Outstanding Organizers!

Two outstanding organizers were honored with the 2014 Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Organizing Award. Congratulations to Darrel Schepp, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 10 Local Lodge 873, and Michele Ritt, Madison Teachers Inc.

Schepp was acknowledged for his drive and determination in organizing non-union workers on multiple organizing campaigns including Spartech Packaging Technologies in Ripon and Skana Aluminum in Manitowoc. Schepp is an IAMAW member at John Deere, Horicon and serves as a member of their Organizing Committee.

Michele Ritt has personally made it her cause to approach each non-union member at various works sites and explain the value of union membership. Her bargaining unit has 97% union membership. Her approach and success in organizing is making a difference in the lives of educators.

Monday, September 22, 2014 02:16pm

Excerpt from his speech

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

“It’s our job to make America work, because we are the workers of America, from the hotels to the high schools, we lay the foundations, teach the classes and weld the steel. We build the roads. We lift the loads and answer the call. We do what it takes, no matter the cost. We wake our country up every single day, and we tuck her into bed at night. This is our country. This is our time. We’re taking our country back, to work for the people who work!

All throughout our communities, collective action is on the rise. Populism is on the rise, and it’s about a common future, not political parties.”

Monday, September 22, 2014 01:54pm

Truth from Trumka

Monday, September 22, 2014 01:50pm

Workers are Ready

Monday, September 22, 2014 11:22am

The Opening Ceremonies

Bill Brockmiller, President of the Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO, called the state Convention to order. Mahlon Mitchell, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin and the Fire Fighters Honor Guard proceeded with opening ceremonies with the Presentation of the Colors. Laurie Gruber sang the National Anthem. Reverend Ellen Rasmussen of Wesley United Methodist Church.

Report of the Rules Committee was read by George Walls, Communications Workers of American and adopted by delegates. The Report of the Credential Committee was read by Marty Beil, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 24 and adopted by delegates.

Senator Jennifer Shilling addressed the crowd calling for “cranes in the air and jobs on the ground.”

Monday, September 22, 2014 10:41am

From the Guest Speakers:

Sunday, September 21, 2014 11:20pm

Welcome Delegates!

Sunday, September 21, 2014 11:04am

In the News

From the La Crosse Tribune:

“AFL-CIO leader: Workers need across-the-board hikes

Concerns about Wisconsin workers’ wages extend far beyond the minimum, says the state AFL-CIO president.

‘Workers need a raise in Wisconsin — and not just in the minimum, but across the board,’ Phil Neuenfeldt said during an interview about the agenda for the AFL-CIO convention Monday through Wednesday at the La Crosse Center.

The theme of the 28th biennial conference, ‘Wisconsin Is Ready,’ is intended to reflect the AFL-CIO’s agenda to raise all wages, create jobs that can support families and elect pro-worker candidates on Nov. 4, Neuenfeldt said.”

Friday, September 19, 2014 08:49pm

Buy Union, Buy Wisconsin!

Stop by the Buy Wisconsin Table outside the Convention Floor to learn more about the power of your purchases. What you buy can support local jobs. We will have computers available to search our database of Wisconsin made goods and services found at

Friday, September 19, 2014 08:48pm

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO’s 28th Biennial

“Wisconsin is Ready” Convention Convenes in La Crosse

On Monday, September 22, delegates of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO will gather in La Crosse for the 28th Biennial Conference of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. Hundreds of labor delegates from across Wisconsin will convene for a two and half day conference to set the agenda of the organization and strategize innovative ways to lead the Wisconsin labor movement into the future.

Delegates will hear from a variety of national, state and local leaders to discuss the need to raise wages for all workers, create and sustain family-supporting jobs in Wisconsin and elect pro-worker candidates on November 4, 2014.