ATLANTIC CITY – More than 600 delegates attending the New Jersey State AFL-CIO 29th Constitutional Convention at Harrah’s Resort have reaffirmed the leadership of President Charles Wowkanech and Secretary-Treasurer Laurel Brennan by unanimously re-electing the executive officers to a four-year term.
Wowkanech and Brennan were first elected executive officers in 1997. Under their leadership, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO has been supporting one million union brothers and sisters and their families in the fight for good jobs, a growing economy, middle-class values and a progressive agenda.
“As a senior member of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO Executive Board, I have worked alongside Charlie and Laurel from the beginning, and I’ve always known them to be dedicated, progressive and inclusive representatives to all sectors of the labor movement,” said Raymond Pocino, vice president and eastern regional manager of Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). “Charlie and Laurel are well-respected among their peers in labor because they lead by example – they are always on the front lines on behalf of New Jersey’s working families. No one works harder, longer or more diligently than they do.”
Before Tuesday’s vote, Wowkanech and Brennan were praised by union leaders and rank-and-file members for building a diverse labor movement that represents all union sectors. Under the Wowkanech-Brennan team, programs that mentor young union workers and encourage union women to seek leadership roles have thrived. Under their direction, the state federation’s nonprofit arm has implemented an immigrant empowerment program that has enabled hundreds of Legal Permanent Residents to realize their dream of U.S. citizenship and the right to vote.
“It is an honor to continue to represent the working men and women of our great state as president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO,” said Wowkanech. “We have shown what a strong and united labor movement can achieve. New Jersey’s labor movement will continue to achieve great results through our continued solidarity.”
During Wowkanech and Brennan’s tenure, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO led the legislative initiative in which New Jersey became the first state in the country to enact Project Labor Agreements. The state federation was also at the forefront of New Jersey’s pioneering Paid Family Leave law and of a successful fight to implement “card-check” union organizing in the public sector. Wowkanech and Brennan’s efforts resulted in a minimum wage increase, which for the first time in New Jersey history, guaranteed that low-wage workers would not fall further behind economically because of inflation. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO has also been a major advocate for prevailing wage laws that are among the strongest of any state.
But perhaps their greatest achievement is the nation’s most successful and often-emulated Labor Candidates Program, which provides the resources and support necessary to ensure that union men and women representing working family values are elected to public offices. The program has achieved a phenomenal 874 labor candidate victories to date, and has 141 union members currently holding offices at all levels of government.
“I am overwhelmed by the unwavering confidence of our delegates and proud to continue to serve an organization with an unmatched record of achievement,” said Brennan. “I will continue to work 24/7 to advance a progressive agenda that benefits all working families.”
“What was true 50 years ago, is still true today: Our strength comes from our unity and our solidarity is what drives us forward.”