October 16, 2015

AFL-CIO vice president to speak on campus

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Jorge Ramirez, a leader in the nation’s labor movement, will present a lecture next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

Ramirez, the president of the Chicago Federation of Labor and vice president of the national AFL-CIO, will speak as part of the “The State of the American Worker Series.”  The event is at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 20, in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium. The lecture is free and the public is invited. 

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is sponsoring the series, with support for Ramirez’ appearance provided by Edward M. Smith, president and CEO of Ullico, Inc., a labor-owned insurance and investment company. 

The series, which started in September 2014, examines issues surrounding the nation’s income disparity and the possibilities for narrowing the gap. Prior speakers have been Sarita Gupta, executive director of “Jobs With Justice,” Doug Whitley, former head of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute. 

David Yepsen, institute director, said there are differing views as to causes of, and potential solutions for, income disparity. He also sees the subject as a major issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. Ramirez is also one of the nation’s leading Latino political figures, Yepsen said. 

Ramirez will offer his views “on the squeezing of the American middle class and what should be done about the problem,” Yepsen said. “This should be a thought-provoking lecture about one of the most important problems facing the nation today.” 

The Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) is the third largest labor council of the national AFL-CIO, representing 500,000 people across Chicago and Cook County. The AFL-CIO represents 13 million people. Ramirez got his first union card in 1988, and worked his way up to serve as union local executive director. He has served as an officer with the CFL since 2006 and was elected the CFL’s first Latino president in 2010. 

Ramirez graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a double major in marketing and computer information systems. He earned his law degree from the Chicago-Kent College of Law. 

For more information on the program, contact the institute at 618/453-4009 or visit http://paulsimoninstitute.siu.edu/.