EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third in a series of stories on the just-concluded 35th biennial Kentucky State AFL-CIO convention.
By BERRY CRAIG
In his post election speech, Dustin Reinstedler, the new Kentucky State AFL-CIO president, thanked Bill Londrigan, his predecessor, for "leading this charge for 24 years and leading many other charges before that.
"To say he's a behemoth is an understatement."
Londrigan, in office for two dozen years, stepped down at the just-ended 35th biennial state AFL-CIO convention. He was elected unopposed six times. Reinstedler also had no opposition.
"I've got a lot of confidence and faith in Dustin," Londrigan said, inviting his successor to address the crowd before swearing him in.
"Let me start by giving Bill a huge thank you for what he's done for the labor movement of Kentucky,' Reinstedler said. "....Bill, you will be sorely missed but greatly appreciated for how much better you left the Kentucky AFL."
Reinstedler, from Louisville, is president of the Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council and a vice chairman of Bricklayers Local 4, Kentucky/Indiana.
He hails from a family of building trades union members, dating back to his great-grandfather, a union carpenter who migrated from his native Germany in the early 1900s. "So I believe in generational unionism," he said.
Reinstedler called Tuesday, his election day, "easily one of the most Illustrious days of my career. I am truly honored to be up here with all you guys." Besides Londrigan he shared the stage with Vice President Ashley Snider, Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Wiggins and Recording Secretary Kevin Walton. All three incumbents were elected without opposition.
He called for--and received--a round of applause for Snider, Wiggins, Walton and state AFL-CIO Political Director Liles Taylor. Reinstedler also praised the federation's execute board and affiliated unions. "None of this could be done without everybody putting it together," he said.
In the last years of his career, Londrigan had to face a less-than-union-friendly GOP supermajority in both the House and Senate. Reinstedler will, too.
But after the session he hopes to find time to visit union halls statewide, getting acquainted with his new constituents and helping spur union organizing.
He said with support for unions, with corporate profits zooming and with a more union-friendly NLRB under President Joe Biden, "shame on us if we don't help some people organize in the workplace....Frankly, I'm a union organizer to my core. It's what I get excited about, what I love doing. So if there's a chance I can help any of you just give me a call and I'll jump right in."
Reinstedler, who joined the Bricklayers union in 2005 "as a brand new apprentice," told the convention he "was so proud to be in this room in solidarity" with unions in the state labor movement.
"So going forward, I'd like to just get to know everybody and figure out how we can increase that solidarity....I can't begin to express how honored I am to serve the working people of Kentucky and I can't thank you enough for the opportunity."