VT AFL-CIO Elects New Leaders in Progressive Turn for Labor

Burlington, VT— In its largest convention in a quarter century, the Vermont AFL-CIO has elected a progressive reform leadership for its approximately 10,000 members statewide. The fourteen newly elected members of the slate aim to revitalize Vermont’s labor movement through organizing new unions, promoting activism among rank-and-file workers, and championing a Green New Deal to combat environmental crisis and economic inequality.

Said Liz Medina of UAW Local 2322 and new District Vice President for Washington/Orange Counties, “I am excited to be part of a rank-and-file slate that has a bold vision for the future of the labor movement.”

Asserting that they are not afraid of strikes, the newly elected members to the AFL-CIO state leadership pledge not to support political candidates in Montpelier who do not fight for union and social-justice interests. 

“We had the largest convention in 20 years,” said incoming President David Van Deusen of AFSCME Local 2413. “We will not be afraid to represent the true interests of labor and working Vermonters.”

Close to 100 delegates from around the state came to represent their local unions—nearly triple the number of delegates from recent conventions. Joined by rank-and-file members, they made this the largest state AFL-CIO annual convention in recent memory. 

In addition to support for a Green New Deal, resolutions passed at the convention include solidarity with UE members from Burlington’s City Market who seek a $15-an-hour livable wage. 

“Not only does our agenda emphasize social and environmental justice, but those who were just elected also represent diversity in terms of race, gender, age, and union affiliation,” said Sarah Alexander, member of UVM United Academics/AFT and newly elected District Vice President for Chittenden County.

Other elected officers include Vice President Tristin Adie of AFGE, Secretary/Treasurer Danielle Bombardier and Member-at-Large Tim LaBombard of IBEW, and Volunteer in Politics Omar Fernandez of APWU.

 “This leadership change brings vigor and dynamism, breathing new life into the Vermont labor movement,” said Steve May of UAW Local 1981.

Also elected to the post of district vice president were 

• for Bennington County: Dan Cornell, AFSCME
• for Caledonia/Lamoille Counties: Rubin Serrano, AFSCME
• for Chittenden County: Helen Scott, AFT/UA and Marty Gil, IATSE
• for Franklin/Grand Isle Counties: Dwight Brown, AFSCME
• for Rutland/Addition Counties: Eric Steel, AFSCME
• for Windham County: Ron Schneiderman, UFCW
• for Windsor County: Ed Smith, OPEIU

Immediately after yesterday’s convention, the new leadership invited all interested AFL-CIO members to attend the first Executive Board meeting whose actions included

• Voting to make all Executive Board meetings open to all VT AFL-CIO members;

• Voting to set aside funds to develop an on-call organizer roster to assist affiliated Unions with new or internal organizing drives;

• Taking steps to form a committee re-evaluate the state AFL-CIO’s relationship to political parties and its legislative strategies;

• Reaffirming commitment to the United! Ten Point Program for Union Power with an emphasis on democracy, solidarity, organizing, and social justice. 

Dwight Brown, member of AFSCME 1343, credited this 10-point platform for the convention’s historic turn-out and interest. “We won, and now the work begins.” now the work begins.”