Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Minnesota AFL-CIO Makes History with New President

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Minnesota AFL-CIO Makes History with New President

Bernie Burnham

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Bernie Burnham was sworn in today as the 10th president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO. As a Pacific Islander, Burnham is the first person of color to lead the Minnesota federation. She is only the second woman to hold the position. Burnham was elected unanimously and succeeded outgoing President Bill McCarthy, who began his tenure as president in 2015.

Prior to election, Burnham served as vice president of Education Minnesota, which is affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA). Before that she worked for 14 years as an elementary school teacher in Duluth, where she served five years as president of the Duluth Federation of Teachers (AFT).

“Becoming president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO is the next step in a journey that began 22 years ago for me,” Burnham said. “When I was hired as a teacher in the Duluth Public Schools, I was a woman of color who took an unconventional route into the teaching profession. I didn’t know if I would be accepted, but my new union family embraced me,” Burnham said. “It’s an honor and privilege to be elected to this office. I am committed to continuing the Labor Movement’s fight for a state where everyone earns a fair return on their work, where every child can pursue their dreams, and where every family that’s struggling today will get what they need, things like accessible healthcare, modern roads and bridges, safe housing, and world-class schools.”

Kenneth Quinnell
Thu, 02/03/2022 – 09:33

Updated: February 5, 2022 — 1:47 pm