|Wisconsin Legislative Council 11|
Next Wave Sweeping Wisconsin
Matt Davis is a young leader on the rise. He was featured in AFSCME's national magazine. Photo by Jim Matthews.
Next Wave is an International effort to get more young people involved in their union at all levels. Next Wave aims to recruit, engage and educate younger members to step up and carry on the legacy that AFSCME leaders before us have built.
Some of the Next Wave’s goals are being met through the natural growth of young leaders within the union. For example, Council 24 Local 48 member Matt Davis is an example of a young member taking on a leadership role. Davis is featured in the new edition of AFSCME Works, our union’s national magazine.
But AFSCME needs many more young leaders like Matt Davis. Regardless of all the hard won gains unions have won over decades of struggle, many of the brothers and sisters who led those fights are set to retire in the next 10 years.
AFSCME wants to make sure that new leaders are ready to step up and take on tomorrow’s challenges while benefitting from the experience of today’s leaders.
Next Wave aims to establish chapters across the country to help provide the tools and connections to get younger members active and ready for future union leadership.
Council 40 has formed a Next Wave Advisory Committee, chaired by Local 284 and Executive Board member Matt Staudenmaier. Other members are Matt Larson of Polk County Local 774, Colleen Ottum of Portage County Local 348, Mike Quieto and Joe Seifert of city of Madison Local 60 and Dorothy Ward of Dane County Local 720.
The staff liaison for the committee is Jason Sidener. For more information or to get involved, you may contact any of the committee members (contact information is on the Council 40 web site) or Jason Sidener at 608 836-4040 or email@example.com.
Council 24 had a robust presence at the national Next Wave Conference in Chicago last spring and is working to encourage young leaders like Matt Davis to continue stepping forward. Members who would like to learn more about the Council’s efforts may contact Executive Director Marty Beil or Assistant Director Jana Weaver at 608-836-0024.
And Wisconsin’s Councils are planning to host an all-Wisconsin Next Wave Conference in Milwaukee on Sept. 9-11. Conference details are still under discussion, but it is known that one day of the conference will be devoted to community service projects. Watch AFSCME Reports, your Council’s web site or this web site for details as they emerge.
Of course, the challenge of reaching out to a new generation of activists is not AFSCME’s alone. Nationally, the union movement is working to address its generation gap. This means not just advancing young leaders within the movement, but reaching out to a new generation of workers who know little about the accomplishments of organized labor and how unions can help workers in the difficult days ahead.
“The labor movement can’t ask the next generation of workers to change how they earn their living to fit our model of trade unionism,” says AFL-CIO Pres. Richard Trumka.
The AFL-CIO is planning to organize a “summit” of young workers to craft an action plan to meet their needs. Part of the plan to create a younger union movement was the election of Liz Shuler, 39, to the No. 2 post in the federation, as secretary treasurer.
Shuler worked her way up through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, where she started as a staff organizer and rose to become assistant to the president. In her first speech after winning election, Shuler talked about reaching out to workers under the age of 35.
“It’s not that today’s young people don’t like unions; it’s just that they really don’t know about us,” she said.
Young leaders are more likely to be able to bring young people into the labor movement and up the leadership ladder. If you’re ready to jump in, catch AFSCME’s Next Wave.
© American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO. All rights reserved.
Photographs and illustrations, as well as text, cannot be used without permission from AFSCME.