Bernie Burnham was sworn in today as the 10th President of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, the state federation of Labor Unions who represent more than 300,000 working people. Burnham was unanimously elected by the federation’s General Board in December to succeed retiring President Bill McCarthy, who has served as President since 2015.
“Working people have more leverage right now than we’ve had in a generation,” said Burnham. “As record numbers of workers seek to join together into unions, the Minnesota AFL-CIO is ready to support these workers and our affiliated unions in the fight for a voice at work, economic security, safer workplaces, and respect on the job.”
Prior to her election to lead the Minnesota AFL-CIO, Burnham was Vice President of Education Minnesota since 2019. She spent 14 years as an elementary school teacher and was actively involved in the labor management process in the Duluth Public Schools for nine years, four of those prior to being elected president of the Duluth Federation of Teachers. As a Pacific-Islander, Burnham has made history as the first person of color to lead the Minnesota AFL-CIO. Since 2020, she has co-chaired the Minnesota AFL-CIO’s Committee on Racial & Economic Justice.
“I want to congratulate President Burnham on her history making achievement and wish her all the best in leading Minnesota’s Labor Movement,” said Minnesota AFL-CIO President Emeritus Bill McCarthy. “The Minnesota AFL-CIO is in good hands with an exceptional leader in the fight to build a more just and equitable state.”
Burnham will serve alongside Secretary-Treasurer Brad Lehto, who has served in that office since 2018. Both officers’ terms last through the September state convention.