The ILCA Special Virtual Convention is taking place on Dec. 9, 2021 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET. The convention will feature a pre-recorded keynote address by AFL-CIO President Elizabeth Shuler, a panel discussion, small-group breakouts, the contest awards ceremony, business meeting, and Executive Council election.

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Convention Agenda

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11 a.m. Eastern Time: Welcome Remarks

11:05: Keynote video by AFL-CIO President Elizabeth Shuler

Elizabeth H. Shuler is president of the 57 unions and 12.5 million members of the AFL-CIO. She is the first woman to hold the office of the president in the history of the labor federation. A visionary leader and longtime trade unionist, Shuler believes the labor movement is the single most powerful vehicle for progress and that unions are a central force in leading lasting societal transformations. She is committed to busting myths about labor, leveraging the labor movement’s diversity for innovative approaches to social justice and making the benefits of a union voice on the job available to working people everywhere.

11:20: Panel: Fighting for Justice – Winning Narratives for a New Workers Movement

We live in a moment of looming danger and historic opportunity. This panel will help us navigate both with winning stories and media strategies for justice and transformation. As communicators we know that words, ideas and images significantly shape understanding and action. The power of narrative couldn’t be more clear as the contemporary enemies of justice have used it to change reality itself, to collate misinformation, misdirection, mythology and endemic bias into a winning story-stew of irrationality and panic. Some of our own members are listening. At the same time workers are fighting back in an unprecedented wave of organizing and strikes. What labor does – now – matters. Who we actually are as a movement of organized workers and their allies, what we become – and how we talk about that – has the potential for changing everything, for seizing the opportunity and averting the danger. Join us for some inspiring ideas.

Panelists

Panelist biographies appear at the end of this agenda.

Moderator: Howard Kling, former ILCA president; current member of the ILCA Executive Council; retired from the Labor Education Service, University of Minnesota.

12:15 p.m.: Greetings from the Canadian Association of Labour Media, Nora Loreto and Virginia Ridley

Nora Loreto is the editor of the Canadian Association of Labour Media and a freelance journalist. Her latest book, Spin Doctors, analyzes how Canada mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic. Virginia Ridley is CALM’s coordinator. Virginia draws on her diverse experience, including social services, grassroots mobilization, government and community relations, politics, policy setting, newsletter creation, innovation, and social media content creation to help CALM members build their skills and to keep the organization running smoothly.

12:20: Break

12:25: Breakout Sessions: Our Future – Re-imagining the ILCA

This is an opportunity for all convention participants to contribute and discuss your ideas for the future of the ILCA in small Zoom breakout groups. How can ILCA help realize the kind of vision and renewal we heard from President Shuler and our panelists? How can ILCA help you and your work during the challenging times ahead. We want your ideas!

Moderator: Chelsea Connor, Director of Media Relations and Communications for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and Treasurer of ILCA.

12:55: Break

1:00: ILCA Business Meeting

1:45: Break

1:50: Awards presentation to winners of the 2021 ILCA Labor Media Contest

2:30: Conclusion

More about our panelists:

Corrina Christensen is a third-generation union member with deep roots in the UAW. She began her labor career working for the P.R. Department at the UAW Solidarity House in Detroit in the early 1990s. From there went on to work for the Seafarers International Union of North America for six years before accepting a position with the BCTGM in 1998. As the Director of Communications and Public Relations she has played a major role in the International Union’s largest strikes against Earthgrains, Hostess Brands, and most recently, Frito Lay, Nabisco and Kellogg’s. She holds degrees from Salisbury State University and George Washington University.

Michelle Ellis is the Director of Digital Media for the BCTGM International Union. Michelle started working at BCTGM Headquarters straight out of high school in 2001. Through college, she entered membership dues, worked in accounting, and later interned in the Communications Department. She joined the Professional Staff after getting an Advertising Degree in 2008. She is currently responsible for all of BCTGM’s graphic art, Facebook/Twitter/Instagram feeds and website design/maintenance. Michelle launched The BCTGM Voices Project podcast in January 2021.

Bill Fletcher, Jr., has been an activist since his teen years. After graduating from college, he went to work as a welder – and entered the labor movement as a rank-and-file member of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America. Since then he has been active in workplace and community struggles as well as electoral campaigns. He has worked for several labor unions in addition to serving as Education Director and later Assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO. Fletcher is a former President of TransAfrica Forum, and served as Board Chair of the International Labor Rights Forum, Executive Editor of The Black Commentator, and founder of the Center for Labor Renewal. He is currently Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, a syndicated columnist, and a regular media commentator on television, radio and the web. Fletcher is the co-author of two books: The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations,1934-1941 with Peter Agard; and Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path Toward Social Justice with Dr. Fernando Gapasin. He is the sole author of “They’re Bankrupting Us!”: And 20 Other Myths about Unions and a new mystery novel The Man Who Fell from the Sky, published by Hardball Press.

Mary Cathryn Ricker is a National Board Certified middle school English/language arts teacher who serves as Executive Director of AFT’s Albert Shanker Institute. The Institute is dedicated to promoting quality public education as a cornerstone of American democracy, improving and strengthening the contributions of unions, and celebrating the power of ideas, expanded access to information, and free and rigorous debate. Prior to her current position, Ricker served as Minnesota’s Commissioner of Education, as Executive vice-president of the American Federation of Teachers, and as president of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, Local 28 where she pioneered the concept of sharing negotiating power with students, families and the community to bargain for the common good. As Education Commissioner she advocated for a more student and family-facing department of education, resulting in increased direct outreach as well as translated materials and services. She also worked alongside advocates to create legislation for Indigenous Education for All, ethnic studies, credit attainment for students experiencing housing instability, expanded social/emotional learning, and a prohibition on public preschool suspensions and dismissals. While vice-president of the AFT she organized the AFT Gun Violence Prevention Advisory Committee, coordinated local, state and national union support for refugee children at the border, and fought for comprehensive immigration reform.

Sabrina Joy Stevens is a movement-builder, storyteller, and strategist who has spent the last 20 years organizing and advocating for human and civil rights. Over the past decade, she has served as an accomplished communications and issue campaign strategist for several of the country’s leading labor and civil rights organizations. Her words and work on issues related to power, identity, and democracy have appeared in a range of outlets including MSNBC, The Washington Post, SiriusXM Progress, TIME.com, CNN.com and more.