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OC Labor Federation Exec Selected for AFL-CIO post

Tefere Gebre - Photo: Chris Prevatt
Tefere Gebre – Photo: Chris Prevatt

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.


  1. Anton Marc Anton Marc July 25, 2013

    Teferi is a true embodiment of the VALUES that underpinned the founding and creation of the lab or movement. Sadly, much of those values and vision have been lost in the political discourse, as well as the conciousness of the public. It is not surprising the United States is in a substantially similar position as it was when the labor movement really picked up steam, with a massive concentration of wealth within the top 1%, lack of living wage jobs, lack of full time jobs, yet companies raking in record profits and benefitting from anti-labor legislation and pro profits/anti worker tax policies. Teferi is the righy man for the job, and has always called it the way it is, as opposed to the way politicians wanted it to be said.

  2. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski July 29, 2013

    Tefere should still apologize for his Corona-infused comments before the press on primary night in 2012. A senior executive in the private sector launching F-bombs towards the press after having several too many drinks would have been fired. His behavior reinforced the thug mentality union leaders unfairly get. A public apology is long overdue and if not forthcoming simply makes me less supportive of labor’s leadership.

  3. Anton Marc Anton Marc August 1, 2013

    Dan: It is more than a little sad that you retread the same old tired tirades, without any regard for understanding the ploitical landscape or issues. You have complained ad nauseum about Mr. Gebre, and have worn this old story out like the GOP has worn out Obama’s birth certificate. You have shown a consistent, strong anti-union sentiment in your writings and outspoken complaints about the OC Labor Fed, and Mr. Gebre. To call Mr. Gebre a “union thug” is not only ridiculous on its face, but serves to highlight a fundamental misunderstanding of what the term (even then used pejoratively and exclusively by conservative, anti-union, anti-labor voices): physical muscle.
    It is therefore not surprising you have championed such Dinos as Jose Solorio and Tom Daly, and fail to provide any commentary about their betrayals of core progressive values, constant pandering to big business, and persistent quid pro quo style of politics.
    Where were you when:
    1. Solorio voted to cut VLF funding to Orange County, costing OC over 48 million, supporting SB 89? GIVING HIM A PASS AND ONLY REPORTING ON HIS ATTEMPTS TO UNDO THE DAMAGE HE HAD DONE, IGNORING HIS ROLE IN DOING SO.
    This vote directly resulted in cuts in OC’s safety net programs. Dan? Keeps quiet.
    2. Reporting on Solorio’s hostile opposition to protecting CA infants and toddlers from BPA, synthetic estrogen and a known endocrine disrupter banned in other countries and states? Check out his votes on SB797 and sb 1319.
    3. Recruiting latino after latino (sarmiento (decline), Tinajero (decline) martinez (accept, end of career)) to split the latino vote in the 69TH AD race for Tom Daly (the husband of Solorio’s chief of staff) and exacerbating the rift between factions of labor, and creating deep rifts in the democratic party in OC?
    4. When Tom Daly was the 1 of 3 democrat s in CA voting against AB880 to protect Medi-Cal funds from being used as WalMart employees health plans? Failed to even show ip for a resolutoion to prevent cuts to Medicare?

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