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Latest News - March 2010

March 11, 2010
Bill George to Retire as AFL-CIO president
Source: Associated Press
Author: Peter Jackson


HARRISBURG, Pa. — After 20 years as the face of organized labor in Pennsylvania and 50 years since the United Steelworkers issued his first union card, Bill George is stepping down as the state president of the AFL-CIO.

George, who will turn 69 in August, said Thursday he'll retire sometime after his successor is elected at the labor federation's biennial convention in Pittsburgh next month and before his term expires in June.

"It wasn't an easy decision, but it's the right decision and at the right time," George said in statement issued by the union.

The convention will mark the 50th anniversary of not only the merger of the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and the Pennsylvania Congress of Industrial Organizations, but the beginning of George's involvement in organized labor working in an Aliquippa steel mill.

Richard W. Bloomingdale of Harrisburg, the group's secretary-treasurer since 1994 and previously an official in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is the only candidate for president to emerge so far.

In his statement, George said Bloomingdale "has played an instrumental role in our political and legislative victories" and hailed him as "one of the top political strategists in the nation."

Bloomingdale, 56, said he has teamed up with Frank Snyder of Beaver County, who would succeed Bloomingdale in the No. 2 slot. Snyder, a steelworker, is currently the Pennsylvania liaison to the national AFL-CIO, Bloomingdale said.

George, known for his fiery speeches about the importance of the labor movement in improving the American worker's standard of living, said he plans to stay on the board as president emeritus. He said he also will remain active in this year's political campaigns, which include races for governor and U.S. Senate.

"I'm the ambassador for the labor movement here," he said.

The federation, which speaks for about 900,000 union workers and 300,000 retirees, has invited President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — among others — to speak at the convention. Obama and Clinton both addressed the 2008 convention in Philadelphia at the height of their intense battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

News of George's impending retirement had dribbled out since Sunday, when he revealed his decision in a live interview on a union-oriented show on Carlisle radio station WHYL-AM.

"I was shocked" by the news, said Rick Smith, a Teamsters union member and the show's host.





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