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What’s #NextUp for Today’s Young Workers?

The AFL-CIO hosted its 2nd Annual Young Workers NextUp Summit in Minneapolis, Minn. This year’s NextUp conference featured high profile guest speakers including U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka; and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer, Liz Shuler.

 Hundreds of young workers from across the country, and a few internationally, gathered to participate in the four-day conference. Attendees participated in strategy sessions, calls to action and round table discussions on the plight of workers in today’s economy. Union and non –union members filled the halls of the Hilton Minneapolis to highlight issues of major concern and dispel the myths that today’s youth are the ‘lost generation’.

During the entire conference, one of the main topics that continued to resonate was the need to get more young people interested in joining unions and remaining active once a member. Young workers and their elder allies were energized and inspired to create change in today’s world and stand for nothing less. Conference participants were given the designation of “NextUp delegates” and charged with the responsibility of carrying out the various strategies discussed.

So what’s next for the NextUp delegates? After the energy and passion of the moment has faded, how can this excitement and desire for change be achieved in this current political and economic climate? Innovation, education and involvement are the keys to success. It’s one thing to attend meetings or seminars about the challenges facing young workers, but the majority of the work comes from engaging in actions that will facilitate positive changes in our society.  Young workers face the same issues plaguing many Americans but are looking to define themselves as an element of change.   With innovative ideas, a commitment to educating the community on issues of importance and becoming involved in community action and political decision making, change will certainly come. Persistence and perseverance will ensure that goals are met and young people are no longer referred to as the ‘lost generation.’

From the Occupy Wall Street protests that are shaping up all over the country it is clear that young workers want a seat the table and have a story to tell. It’s true – young people are the future – and from the looks of things they will continue to fight for the ideals of justice and equality embodied in the American spirit.

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