Big news for our movement: On April 1, 2016, the Huron Valley Central Labor Council (HVCLC), AFL-CIO, officially became the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.
Our mission and goal remain the same: Bringing together local union leaders to build a labor movement that improves the lives of all working families. We work to achieve our mission by supporting struggles for worker rights and living wages in the workplace, and by changing the balance of political power to achieve racial and social justice in our region.
But this is much more than a name change. The creation of our new Area Labor Federation coincides with four important developments.
First, the HVCLC brought together delegates from local unions whose members lived or worked in two counties: Washtenaw and Livingston. The new, expanded HVALF adds Jackson and Livingston counties to create a four-county federation. We will be drafting a new constitution to reflect this and other changes in the structure of the HVALF this summer, and elections for officers under this new constitution will take place in January 2017.
Second, the HVCLC relied entirely on volunteers who were already leaders in their local unions and stepped up to put time and energy into movement-level work as well. Volunteers will remain the heart and soul of the HVALF, but our efforts will now be reinforced by the work of a full-time Field Coordinator. Adding staff support will enable us to deepen our member volunteer base, develop more young leaders, forge stronger links with community allies, launch new campaigns, and strengthen our political work.
Third, because of its new structure, the HVALF is eligible for Solidarity Grants from the AFL-CIO, which will enable us to bring staff support online in the very near future.
Finally, the HVALF has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with two neighboring Central Labor Councils. Under this MOU, the Greater Lansing CLC and the Monroe-Lenawee CLC provide financial support for our Field Coordinator in the form of monthly per capita contributions, beginning on April 1, 2016. The MOU has two important implications: first, it enables us to maintain our Field Coordinator position after our Solidarity Grant money runs out; and second, it means that our Field Coordinator will help to develop programs and campaigns to build labor movement power across a nine-county region: the four counties of the HVALF plus Monroe, Lenawee, Eaton, Ingham and Clinton counties.
Taken together, the changes associated with the formation of the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation promise a more powerful regional labor movement with deeper roots in our communities and greater coordination and mutual learning across a nine-county area. It’s a promise we intend to keep.