AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council Attends Labor Day Event at the White House: Union Veterans will be Tremendously Served by President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda

AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council Attends Labor Day Event at the White House

Union Veterans will be Tremendously Served by President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda.

Washington, D.C.—The Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO was proud to attend the White House for President Joe Biden’s Labor Day event and highlight the importance of his Build Back Better agenda to the veteran community. Joining in attendance are four union veterans: Rachel Lablance, Micheal Conner, Sean-Keoni Ellis, and Anthony Livingston, each with a unique and powerful story demonstrating how veterans can thrive when provided with opportunities, resources, and the right environment.

Very often we only hear about struggles and challenges in the veteran community regarding employment and transitioning from military service, but there is another story: Today, there are over 1 million actively working union veterans, along with countless retirees and military families. These veterans have found the pathway to the American dream through a union card and, in many cases, veteran job training programs and veteran training programs. Just like everyone in our country, the men and women who served our country deserve stable and secure employment, and there’s no better way to achieve that than by joining a union.

“This is a proud day for the Union Veterans Council, joining President Biden and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh at the White House to discuss the ways the Build Back Better agenda and American Jobs Plan will address the needs of veterans and service members across the country who need opportunities,” says Will Attig Executive Director of the Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO and U.S. Army veteran, “Union careers give veterans the opportunity to not only take care of ourselves and our families, they give veterans the ability to serve again. As evidenced by the stories of the union veterans at the White House today, given the opportunity, veterans won’t just succeed, we will thrive.”

 This Labor Day, the Union Veterans Council is standing with President Joe Biden supporting his commitment to providing more opportunities for veterans to succeed through his Build Back Better agenda. By making it easier for workers to form a union and collectively bargain, the president is giving millions of veterans a chance to realize the American dream we served to defend. Through greater public investment in infrastructure, job training programs and federally registered apprenticeship programs, President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda will connect veterans with good careers for life.

Union Veterans Council, AFL-CIO Labor Day White House Delegation

Very often we only hear about struggles and challenges in the veteran’s community but there is another story, when we give veterans opportunities, resources,  and the right environment this community can thrive. 

Today there are over 1 million actively working union veterans, along with countless retirees and military families, these veterans have found the pathway to the American dream through a union card and many times veteran training programs. 

But what makes union veterans unique is that these jobs are not just jobs, union jobs give our veterans the opportunity to not only take care of themselves and their families, they give our union veterans the ability to serve again. 

The Union Veterans Council is proud to attend the White House for the president’s Labor day event, and we are proud to highlight four union veterans each with a unique and powerful story. 

Rachel Lablance

Journey Pipefitter/Welder, working at one of the most advanced Coal-fired powerhouses in America. 

United States Marine Corps / E5 Sgt

MOS- 6092 Aircraft Structural Mechanic/ Welder

Deployments- OEF Bagram, Afghanistan 

  • Mascoutah, Illinois

"Being in the union has been a great opportunity for me.  The UA offered the Veterans In Piping Program that allowed me and my family to transition out of the military very smoothly. I was able to obtain the UA welding certifications, OSHA 30 and everything that was needed and required in order to get me to work right away. Because of this I was able to buy a house and establish myself in a whole new environment in a short amount of time and I am incredibly grateful for this program and can't speak of it enough for any Marines, Sailors, Soldiers or Airman that are looking into transitioning".

Micheal Conner

Union Affiliation-Pile Drivers/Divers Local 474, Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters/Helmets to Hardhats, NABTU  

Branch of Service-U.S Army-MOS/Job Title- 11B4V/Airborne Ranger

Deployments-OEF x2 (2/75), OEF/OIF (USASOC), OIF (LRS)

  • Fort Meade, MD 

Michael James Conner was born in Torrance, California on November 19th 1975.   He entered the U.S. Army in June of 1994, completing Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benning, Georgia.  He was then awarded the Military Occupational Skill Identifier 11B, Infantryman.

His previous assignments include Rifleman, Team Leader, Squad Leader, and Weapons Squad Leader, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment; Ranger Instructor, 5th Ranger Training Battalion; Ranger Indoctrination program Platoon Sergeant, HQ 75th Ranger Regiment; Special Operations Research Support Element (SORSE), US Army Special Operations Command; Detachment Sergeant and Operations NCOIC, C/38th Long Range Surveillance Company (Airborne).

When Michael retired, he went to Commercial Deep Sea Diving School in Eriel, NJ and once he finished the grogram at Divers Academy International, he entered the Helmets to Hardhats Program. The Helmets to Hardhats program placed Michael with the Pile Drivers and Divers Local out of Washington, D.C. where he then went through and graduated the Apprenticeship program. Once graduated, he applied and landed a job as a Council Rep with the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters and has been in this position for two years.

"The Union has provided me with an opportunity to be a part of an organization that values its people.  The Union values its veterans.  It has provided me a means to support my family and start a second career".

Sean-Keoni Ellis

Union Affiliation- United Association Local 230 San Diego, CA

Branch of Service- USMC

MOS/Job Title- 0311/ Infantry

Unit- 2nd Battalion 4th Marines

Deployments- 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

  • San Diago, CA

Background and Story 

Joined the Marine Corps in 2006, graduated from Veterans In Piping (VIP) program-Camp Pendleton January 2011. Joined the UA apprenticeship immediately after graduating VIP then completed my apprenticeship and entered as a Journeyman in 2015. Became the Lead VIP Instructor at Camp Pendleton 2016- 2021. Taught the Veterans in Apprenticeship course at the United Association Instructor Training Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan 2019, 2020, & 2021. Became the Political Organizer at UA local 230 in 2021.

"Being in the union has provided the structure and opportunities my family has needed to be successful in our transition from the military into civilian life. Since leaving the military my family and I have never had to worry about medical bills piling up because the union has provided excellent health care and medical benefits. I was able to make good consistent pay in order to purchase a home in San Diego, where for many of my peers that has been unobtainable. Being a part of the UA has given me my “mission” back. My mission is and always has been to serve an organization and a cause that is greater than myself". 

Anthony Livingston

Union Affiliation-American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)  

Branch of Service-U.S Army

MOS/Job Title-62 B10; Construction Equipment Repairer


  • Clarksburg, MD 

Background and Story 

Anthony Livingston heads up the AFGE Veterans program, with a mission to empower its member veterans and to offer union veteran engagement opportunities to its members. Anthony’s primary objective is to substantially increase political mobilization among the AFGE membership to seek substantive public policy outcomes.  

Anthony has a passion for empowering diverse and underserved communities. His background includes state and federal legislative affairs, grassroots organizing and coalition building. He humble beginnings comes from his countless work in state and congressional electoral campaigns. He honorably served as an enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army Reserves, becoming airborne certified, and stationed in Kuwait at the completion of Desert Storm. What has being in a union done for you? I have been in a union for over 6 years and have experienced immense solidarity among the sisters and brothers of both the membership and staff. Being in a union has allowed me to reinvigorate my passion for grassroots organizing, which is making a difference in the lives of working-class families nationwide. 



UVC Executive Director Will Attig with Union Vet Delegation

The Union Veterans Council brings working-class veterans together to speak out on the issues that impact us most, especially the need for good jobs and a strong, fully funded and staffed VA. Additionally, we hold private enterprise and elected officials accountable for their words and actions.  We believe wholeheartedly that the ability for someone to self-identify as “pro-veteran” isn’t determined by what lapel pin they don or what catchphrase they employ; veterans face real issues that require real actions—constructive actions that lead to positive solutions. At the Union Veterans Council, we fight every day for those who have fought for us.