The Executive Director of the Orange County Labor Federation, Tefere Gebre, has been tapped by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to fill the position of Executive Vice President on his slate in the national labor organizations officer election in September. The Executive Vice President position has been held since 2007 by Arlene Holt Baker, who be leaving the union federation this year, opening a top executive post.
Born in Gondar, Ethiopia, Mr. Gebre, who is 45 years old, was a political refugee who immigrated to the U.S. as a teen. He graduated from a downtown Los Angeles high school and attended Cal Poly Pomona on an athletic scholarship for track and field. During college, he worked his first union job loading packages at night for UPS as a Teamsters member. He graduated with a degree in international marketing.
Mr. Gebre was twice elected president of the California Young Democrats and was the first African-American and first immigrant elected to lead the organization. He worked as a legislative aid for Willie Brown Jr. when Mr. Brown was speaker of the California State Assembly. In his current role, Mr. Gebre directs the Orange County Labor Federation. a a coalition of more than 90 local unions.
“We are tremendously excited that Tefere Gebre has agreed to join our team as a candidate for executive vice president. He is truly an authentic voice for a new generation and a great trade unionist,” Mr. Trumka said.
Tefere has been a tremendous asset to Orange County and has been responsible for forging a labor coalition that has grown from an afterthought between Los Angeles and San Diego, to a model of organization and labor strength throughout the state. For example, during the recent fight to defeat Proposition 32 Gebre led the Orange County federation through an extensive voter outreach and education effort that proved critical to the defeat of the anti-labor initiative.
In a letter to his brothers and sisters in labor Gebre wrote yesterday:
“It is beyond any words to describe how honored I am to join the team as candidate for AFL-CIO Executive Vice President. For the first time in my life, I am witnessing a genuine openness from the top of the labor movement to build enduring and values based relationships with our members, our communities and allies. Be proud that the Orange County Labor Movement has been the leader in innovative ideas and bold moves to make dramatic changes for all workers. Nationally, they took notice and you should be proud of the hard work you’ve contributed in redefining this labor movement.
Now more than ever, we need to continue the work we’ve been doing here. Five years ago, Orange County was that drive over county, left unnoticed. Today, Orange County is the talk of the nation and if we make real change here in OC, we can do it all across the nation. It is time!”
Congratulations Tefere. Your leadership, and skill will be profoundly missed in Orange County. Our loss, will be a significant gain for the national labor movement.