The Texas AFL-CIO had partnered with Central Labor Bodies and an affiliate union on a long-term strategic planning initiative to create the Ruth Ellinger Labor Leader School. Our inaugural class is about to finish up their year and we have come away with engaged leaders and the excitement and vigor to welcome a new class.

We are working hard with our students and staff to learn from our first year and make the next Ruth Ellinger Texas Labor Leaders class as successful as possible. We again ask for your help in building a strong and dedicated group of students. We have all seen the commitment in our Texas unions, and we hope that when reading this letter and learning about our first class, a few leaders come to mind that could contribute and benefit from an opportunity like this. We ask that you, as a leader within your own union or Central Labor Body, nominate at least one active member that can commit to this program.

This Labor Leaders School is a year-long leadership development program that will be managed by the staff of the Texas AFL-CIO. The School's intention is to give our dedicated union members the tools to conquer the strategic political challenges facing the labor movement in the 21st century, especially in our own state. The program focuses on broadening the political, legislative, and leadership skills of each participant while simultaneously building solidarity across unions in Texas. We believe that each participant will walk away with the concrete skills necessary to help lead labor through an increasingly hostile political environment.

The program will consist of several weekend trainings and participants can expect to learn about labor history, organizing, campaigns, and working within the legislature. Built in within these weekend trainings are opportunities to take what they have learned and apply it in real political and legislative work. Our inaugural class spent a weekend in Houston during the General Election campaign season, where they were able to learn from the Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation and their affiliated unions on what a labor campaign program looks like. They had the opportunity to speak with labor-endorsed candidates and participate in mobilizing union members to the polls.

Participants in this class will get to have similar opportunities. Participants will need to attend at least two weekend overnight trips leading up to the 2018 elections, two weekday trips during the election season and to complete assignments in between trainings in participant's respective communities and union halls. Applications are due on August 1st. The AFL-CIO staff will select up to 35 participants and will notify them by August 31st. School will start in September 2017 and will end September 2018.

All Texas unions are invited to participate, and candidates must be sponsored by their local union, International Union or Central Body. Affiliates or Central Bodies who nominate participants must agree to provide $500 scholarships for each member, should they be selected. We highly encourage women, people of color and young workers to apply. Our goal is to have at least 50% of the participants will be women and/or people of color and 50% of the participants under the age of 35.

With this letter you will find an application and program review. Please reach out to the leaders within your organization and help them to apply. With your help, we can create a community of leaders who are focused on strengthening their own organizations while working together to create a better future for working people.