JORGE RAMIREZ, President
Jorge Ramirez is president of the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) and a vice president of the national American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). The CFL is the third largest central labor council of the national AFL-CIO, representing half a million working people across Chicago and Cook County. The AFL-CIO is the umbrella federation of U.S. unions, representing 13 million working men and women. Jorge has served as an officer of the Chicago Federation of Labor since July 2006 and was elected the CFL’s first Latino president in July 2010. In February 2015, he was elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council as a vice president, helping to guide the daily work of the national federation.
Jorge earned his first union card in 1988 through the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 1546. He worked his way up through the ranks, ultimately serving as UFCW Local 1546’s executive director before coming to the CFL.
As the son of Mexican immigrants, Jorge understands the struggles his father, a meat packing worker in Chicago’s Back of Yards neighborhood, and his fellow workers endured to unionize their workplace in the 1960s. Many of the packinghouse workers were immigrants, often unable to fight for their rights on their own. By standing together they secured a union contract that offered better wages and benefits. As a child, Jorge witnessed first-hand the strength a collective voice gave to the packinghouse workers, occasionally standing with his father on the picket lines. The lessons he learned provide the motivation he has to serve working men and women in organized labor today.
In his role as president of the CFL, Jorge serves on executive and advisory boards for labor, civic, and community organizations across the city and around the country. His involvement with these organizations allows him to represent the interests of labor and protect the fundamental rights of all workers. As a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Jorge is promoting the Reserve’s dual mandate of maximum employment and stable prices to foster a healthy economy. Through his work with World Business Chicago, Choose Chicago, Chicago Infrastructure Trust and Navy Pier, Inc., Jorge is working to bring jobs and expand the region’s economy by growing and improving the city’s manufacturing, infrastructure, tourism and trade show opportunities. Locally, Jorge also serves on the boards of Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, the Archdiocese of Chicago Office for Immigrant Affairs, St. Joseph College Seminary, and other civic and community groups.
Jorge graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a double major in marketing and computer information systems. He later went on to receive his Juris Doctor from the Chicago-Kent College of Law.
He and his wife, Catrina, have four sons.
ROBERT G. REITER JR., Secretary-Treasurer
For Bob Reiter, the labor movement has always had an influence on his life. His parents instilled the values of solidarity and social justice in Bob from a young age, and as he got older, he realized that everywhere he went and everything he did kept bringing him back to the labor movement. He is a third-generation member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. He started working with Local 150 while in college.
Bob’s appreciation for the history of labor informs his understanding of the need to reposition the labor movement in light of its history. Throughout his career, he has worked as a labor attorney, an organizer, a negotiator and a lobbyist. When the opportunity to join the Chicago Federation of Labor as the Secretary-Treasurer presented itself, Bob saw this as an opportunity to bring the values that his parents taught him to a bigger stage, allowing him to affect people’s lives in a way he could not do at his local.
While each union has its own unique successes and failures, the broader issues and struggles are universally the same. Bob’s role as the Secretary-Treasurer is to be the voice of every CFL affiliated union on these big picture issues. One of his responsibilities through his role as the Secretary-Treasurer is to represent the interests of labor throughout the Chicago and Cook County. Through his work as a Board member for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, Bob is helping to strengthen the economy of Chicago by bring tradeshows, conventions and other public events to Chicago. His involvement with various community groups, including Chicago Jobs with Justice’s Executive Committee and Arise Chicago’s Executive Board, allows him to fight for the rights of workers through education, organizing and shaping public discourse. As a member of the Citizen Action/Illinois Policy Council, Bob has the opportunity to influence the organization’s public policy positions, the legislative agenda and any candidate endorsements for public office. On the Metropolitan Planning Council Resource Board, Bob is helping to build a strong economy and reinvigorate Chicago’s neighborhoods. Bob is also lending his voice to issues related to international trade, meeting periodically with dignitaries from various European countries and by serving as a panelist on the TTIP Chicago Summit with experts from the agricultural, manufacturing and financial industries.
Bob holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in political science from Eastern Illinois University, and a Juris Doctor degree from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. He currently resides in Orland Park, Ill. with his wife, Diana, and their two children.