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The War on Working People in NC and Beyond: Why Labor Law Matters

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

12:00 PM

12:50 PM

Classroom 5042

The UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity will host MaryBe McMillan, Secretary-Treasurer of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, and Liz Shuler, National AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer, for a discussion of the legislature's war on labor in pushing for devastating cuts to unemployment benefits.  Lunch will be provided.

About the speakers:

MaryBe McMillan is Secretary-Treasurer of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, representing 130,000 union members throughout the state. With her election to this position in 2005, she became the first female officer history of the organization. In September 2009, she was elected by acclamation to a second term.

Prior to working for the AFL-CIO, she worked as Research Director for the Common Sense Foundation and as State Policy Analyst for theSchool & Community Trust. In 2006, Governor Easley appointed her to serve on the NC Commission on Workforce Development. She chaired the strategic planning committee of the Commission, and is now serving a second term on the Commission.

McMillan grew up in Hickory, North Carolina. She is a long-time social justice activist who became involved with union organizing as a student. She graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest University with a B.A. in sociology. She also holds a M.A. degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Ph.D. in sociology from NC State University. She is a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 465 in Durham, North Carolina.


As a graduate of the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism, Elizabeth (Liz) Shuler, like many young people today, pieced together part-time jobs, lived at home and struggled to find her way into the world of work. That was in 1992. Since then, Liz has used every job as an opportunity to stand up for the underdog. Today, as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, the second-highest position in the labor movement, Shuler serves as the chief financial officer of the federation and oversees six administrative departments.

Rising through the ranks from her first union position in Local 125 of the IBEW in Portland, Oregon, Shuler is not only is the first woman elected as the federation’s secretary-treasurer, she also holds the distinction of being the youngest officer ever to sit on the federation’s Executive Council.  From her earliest days on the job in Portland, Liz displayed a commitment to excellence and professionalism that helped her succeed in all she undertook, often against daunting odds.

As unions and union members are under attack across the world, Shuler says it’s time to reconnect with the public on the basis of shared values and the importance and pride we all feel in our work.  “After all,” she says, “work is what connects us all.”  Shuler lives with her husband, David Herbst, in Washington, D.C.


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