For organized labor in Pennsylvania, the past year has been a vivid reminder that change is the only constant. A number of organizations saw changes in leadership, including the first female leader of the state’s AFL-CIO and the first Black business manager of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council. And thanks to the burgeoning interest in unionizing, the power, promise and possibilities offered by unions are front-and-center like they haven’t been in some time.
To recognize the people who keep Pennsylvania working, City & State PA’s 2022 Labor Power 100 recognizes the union chiefs, politicians, worker’s rights advocates, activists, attorneys and others who make up the ever-evolving labor movement in the state. The following profiles were researched and written by City & State staff and freelance writer Hilary Danailova.
The first woman to lead the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is Erie native Angela Ferritto, a daughter and sister of union members, who assumed the role in June. Ferritto heads a union that represents 700,000 workers from 51 international unions and 1,422 locals throughout the commonwealth. A former employee with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, Ferritto has a 15-year history of labor involvement, holding leadership and organizing roles with AFSCME in Erie and Harrisburg. She has stated that her priorities as AFL-CIO president will be worker safety, wages and pensions.
After 32 years teaching music in Harrisburg, Rich Askey now has the job of harmonizing the Pennsylvania State Education Association’s 178,000 teachers and other members. As president, Askey has steered the statewide union through the pandemic’s cataclysm, championing a federal aid package with $6.5 billion for Pennsylvania education and a state law making it easier to hire substitute teachers. He also launched the nonprofit’s task force on racial justice and equity and is a member of the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs.
Third-generation AFSCME member J. David Henderson has headed AFSCME Council 13 in Harrisburg since 2021, representing 65,000 public and private nonprofit Pennsylvania employees. Henderson has held numerous leadership roles since joining AFSCME in 1979 as an employee of the State Department of Welfare, and currently serves as an AFSCME International Vice President. Under Henderson’s leadership, the Council has fought against privatization and outsourcing initiatives, lobbied for fair contracts and promoted extensive worker training programs.
Wendell Young IV represents 35,000 workers working everywhere from wine and spirits stores to medical cannabis facilities, supermarkets and nursing homes. Young’s labor involvement dates to the 1980s, when, as lead negotiator, Young worked to win union members child care and education benefits. In 2018, he led the historic merger with Local 23 that created UFCW Local 1776 Keystone State. Young is a vice president of the UFCW International Union and president of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans board of directors.
Last fall, Ryan Boyer became the first Black business manager of the influential Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council – but he hopes he won’t be the last. Diversifying the majority-white union is high on Boyer’s agenda, after a decade in which he led the more multiethnic Laborers District Council. With opportunities resulting from President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, as well as a proposed $1.3 billion Center City arena, Boyer will continue to wield substantial influence in Philadelphia and beyond.
Over four decades of labor activism, Neal Bisno has championed racial and economic justice and worked to expand the reach of SEIU, the 2-million-strong national union where he is executive vice president. Bisno, a labor organizer since his student days in the 1980s, previously headed SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, where he championed legislation banning forced overtime, a $15 minimum wage and Medicaid expansion on behalf of 45,000 members. More recently, Bisno rallied voters during the 2020 presidential election, helping drive victories in key states.
Matt Yarnell, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania’s president, recently celebrated $515 million for long-term care and higher Medicaid reimbursement rates in Gov. Tom Wolf’s latest state budget. It was the latest victory for the leader of the commonwealth’s largest nurse and health care worker union, who has championed his members through the pandemic by advocating for higher pay and safe staffing levels. Before assuming his role in 2016, Yarnell was executive vice president, leading the successful campaign to secure a $15 hourly wage for nursing home workers.
William Sproule has come a long way since the 1980s, when he started as an apprentice carpenter for Atlantic City casino projects. Today, Sproule is executive secretary-treasurer of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, overseeing day-to-day operations for local unions representing 41,000 members throughout the mid-Atlantic. Sproule is also a board member of the New Jersey Building Authority, vice president of the New Jersey State Building & Construction Trades Council and a member of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Gaming Commissions.
Thomas Conway heads the international executive board of the mighty United Steelworkers union. Conway, who started his career at Bethlehem Steel, rose through the USW leadership and most recently served as USW’s longtime vice president, earning a reputation as an ace labor negotiator on behalf of the union’s 1.2 million North American members.
John Shinn, USW’s international chief financial officer, was until recently director of the union’s East Coast district, where he guided the Hurricane Sandy response and partnered with the IBEW and environmental groups to organize Tesla workers in Buffalo. Shinn currently chairs USW’s chemical sector.
Lynne Fox serves as international president of Workers United, which has 86,000 members in the U.S. and Canada, and is an executive board member of SEIU, with which Workers United is affiliated. The Philadelphia native is also the longtime manager of Workers United’s Philadelphia Joint Board, president of the Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee and vice president of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO Council. In 2016, Fox became the first woman in Amalgamated Bank's near 100-year history to serve as chair.
Bill Hamilton has been a Teamster since 1966, back when Jimmy Hoffa was in charge of the powerful union. Hamilton, who started as a trucker, is the longtime vice president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ eastern region, as well as president of both Joint Council 53 and the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters. Over his decades of labor advocacy, Hamilton has lobbied at local, state and national levels for contracts favorable to his membership.
The first Latino to lead a major Philadelphia-area union, Esteban Vera Jr., who is Puerto Rican American, has served as business manager of Laborers Union Local 57 since 2016. He represents 3,000 mostly Black and Latino members in the building trades, advocating for inclusion as well as wages, benefits and safety standards. Vera, a U.S. Army veteran and former construction worker, is also the first Latino to serve on SEPTA’s board of directors.
For two decades, Patrick J. Eiding has been president of the powerful Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, which represents more than 100 local unions. Eiding previously spent a quarter-century as business manager at the Insulators and Asbestos Workers Local 14, where he has been a member since 1963. He is currently secretary-treasurer of the Philadelphia Building Trades Council, as well as serving on the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Executive Council and the general board of the National AFL-CIO, representing Northeast central labor councils.
As the president and business manager of Sheet Metal Workers Local 19, Gary J. Masino leads over 4,000 union members. Masino also serves as general vice president of the International Association of SMART, representing over 225,000 members. Masino, who was recently elected assistant business manager of the Philadelphia Building Trades, has previously been appointed to the Philadelphia Department of Licensing and Inspection Review Board and the Philadelphia Zoning Board. He has also been a commissioner on the Delaware River Port Authority Board and was unanimously appointed by the state Senate as a member of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.
Few Pennsylvanians can match the storied career of labor leader David Fillman, who started as a PennDOT mechanic in the 1970s and retired last year after overseeing a two-decade membership expansion as executive director of AFSCME Council 13, the largest union in the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO. Fillman currently chairs the board of the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System. He has also chaired the Pennsylvania Employees Benefit Trust Fund and the Coalition for Labor Engagement and Accountable Revenue, and was a vice president of AFSCME's international union.
Pennsylvania State Education Association Executive Director Jim Vaughan has been an influential figure at the intersection of education and politics since at least 2004, the year he joined the PSEA. Within a few years, he was overseeing the group’s lobbying and political activity, implementing an advocacy system with a dozen regional field coordinators and a network of 3,000 local member-coordinators. Vaughan has led numerous successful initiatives, championing pro-public education candidates and legislation and defeating proposals that threatened the Association’s interests.
Fourteen hundred Philadelphia airport workers recently joined the 21,000 members of SEIU 32BJ thanks to Executive Vice President Gabe Morgan, who has brought thousands of workers into union ranks over a multi-decade career. As SEIU 32BJ’s state director for Pennsylvania and Delaware, Morgan helped secure a $15 Delaware minimum wage and elect progressive politicians in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. He is also president of the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, the organization’s political voice, and serves on the national board of the Working Families Party for PA.
This past June, Robert Bair was elected president of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council, succeeding Frank Sirianni. Bair leads a coalition of 16 regional councils whose members represent tens of thousands of construction workers at 115 locals – a workforce Bair promotes for major projects like those set to emerge from new government infrastructure spending. Previously, Bair served as business manager of IBEW Local 143 in Harrisburg, a 600-member electricians’ union.
It seems fitting that Arthur Steinberg should represent Pennsylvania educators: In addition to himself, his wife, father, mother and sister were all Philadelphia teachers. As head of AFT Pennsylvania, which represents 36,000 members in 64 local affiliates, Steinberg has advocated for employees of public, private, charter and post-secondary schools through the unique challenges of the pandemic – including making controversial calls for COVID-related closures, pushing for safety standards and lobbying for greater state investment in education.
From prison counselors to school psychologists and occupational therapists, 20,000 of Pennsylvania’s human services workers are represented by SEIU Local 668, helmed by Steve Catanese. Catanese, who served as business agent before assuming the presidency in 2018, oversees a statewide union representing employees throughout state and local government and the private sector. Under Catanese’s guidance, Allegheny County 911 operators recently threatened a strike to win better working conditions and wages amid staffing shortages – an example of the pandemic challenges Catanese confronts.
As president of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, John Eckenrode heads a union representing 20,000 workers at commonwealth prisons and related facilities. During the pandemic, Eckenrode has advocated forcefully at the state level for increased state spending for hiring to relieve staffing shortages and opposed vaccination mandates for officers. Under Eckenrode’s guidance, the PSCOA operates a Corrections Benevolent Fund, as well as member resources that include health coverage and scholarships.
The Keystone State’s worsening teacher shortage is a priority for longtime Stroudsburg middle school teacher Aaron Chapin, who has served as vice president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association since 2019. He is also the PSEA Northeastern regional president and a member of its board of directors. With Chapin’s guidance, the PSEA has launched key initiatives aimed at attracting more substitute teachers as well as raising wages to recruit more permanent instructors.
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Legislative Director Sarah Hammond can often be found in Harrisburg championing workers' concerns like unemployment compensation, job safety and the proposed Protecting the Right to Organize Act. As midterm elections near, Hammond leads union campaigning on behalf of candidates who support the goals of the PA AFL-CIO’s 700,000 members, representing 51 international unions throughout the commonwealth. Prior to assuming her role at AFL-CIO, Hammond was herself a 2020 congressional nominee from Pennsylvania's 11th District in Lancaster County.
Inspired by the gains of the civil rights movement era, as well as his family of public school teachers, Jerry Jordan became active in the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers early in his career teaching Spanish and ESL. Jordan now serves as PFT president, having held various leadership positions, including as chief negotiator since 2000. Himself a product of Philadelphia public schools, Jordan is also a vice president of the Philadelphia Central Labor Council and the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and a vice president on the AFT executive council.
James Snell heads the Philadelphia local of the 355,000-strong North American Steamfitters union, also known as the UA, which represents plumbers, pipe and sprinkler fitters, welders, HVAC technicians and other construction specialists. Snell’s membership spans 10 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania and is responsible for servicing gas pipeline distribution throughout the Keystone State. Having held various leadership positions with Local 420 since 2004, Snell now leads the union’s political advocacy, representing steamfitters’ interests before the Pennsylvania Legislature.
Pittsburgh firefighter and U.S. Navy veteran Darrin Kelly is president of the Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council, one of 500 AFL-CIO state and local labor councils, where he served as executive vice president prior to his 2018 election. Kelly, a 20-year career firefighter, is also a member of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1, where he is the political director, a role he previously held with the Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association.
Mark Lynch heads IBEW Local 98, one of Philadelphia's most politically influential unions, with 5,000 members throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. Mentored by his predecessor – the legendary John Dougherty, who was convicted of federal bribery charges last year – Lynch previously served as the local's safety coordinator. He is tasked with leading the powerful electrical workers' union into a new era, championing IBEW’s role in the development of a framework for electric vehicles and hosting the 122-year-old union’s first women's group.
When he ousted an incumbent in 2020 to become AFSCME District Council 33's first new president in 24 years, Ernest Garrett assumed leadership of one of Philadelphia's most powerful unions. Garrett – who ran as an official at Local 394, representing water department workers – now leads an organization comprising 15 locals whose 10,000 members collectively control many of the city's most essential services, from sanitation to corrections. As such, Garrett and his organization wield outsize influence over both the city budget and its labor scene.
This past April, East Stroudsburg University political science professor Kenneth Mash returned to a role he knows well: president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties. Mash previously held the office from 2014-20, leading the union’s 5,000 members through a strike and multiple contract negotiations. Amid institutional
consolidations, and with the union’s collective bargaining agreements due to expire next year, Mash will lead APSCUF through upcoming contract talks and funding debates.
After a 40-year career in law enforcement, Les Neri is now national second vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police. He is also president of the FOP Pennsylvania State Lodge, where his legislative victories include securing children’s tuitions and pension benefits for officers killed in service, as well as retiree cost-of-living increases. A longtime champion of collective bargaining, Neri has participated in hundreds of contract negotiations, arbitrations, and cases involving discipline and unfair labor practices.
This year, labor and racial justice crusader Fredrick Redmond became the highest-ranking African American officer in the history of America’s labor movement when he was elected secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, its second-highest office. Redmond previously held various leadership positions with the United Steelworkers, including overseeing its civil and human rights division as international vice president for human affairs. He currently chairs the AFL-CIO task force on racial justice and serves as president of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas.
Michele Kessler serves as secretary-treasurer, the second-highest office, at UFCW Local 1776 Keystone State, which counts 35,000 members throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Ohio. Kessler, a longtime activist for both labor and LGBTQ causes, previously served as director of the union’s northeast and central division. She now oversees financial operations and manages a variety of day-to-day affairs for Local 1776’s workers at Fine Wines & Spirits stores, grocery and drug stores, meat processing and medical cannabis facilities, nursing homes and manufacturers.
Progressive politics has a champion in Silas Russell, who directs political action for SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and recently served as co-chair of Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey’s transition. As an executive vice president with the powerful statewide caregivers’ union, Russell leads advocacy for legislation to address pandemic-era concerns, including safe workplace staffing levels and increased funding for nursing homes. Under Russell’s direction, SEIU Healthcare PA has expanded grassroots political recruitment, campaigned for progressive candidates, pushed for higher wages and championed racial justice initiatives.
Bernie Hall, a fourth-generation steelworker with a reputation for effective bargaining and political activism, was elected director of USW District 10 this year. Hall started his career at Zinc Corporation of America and is a longtime member of Local 8183, which under his leadership was honored at the union’s international convention for its commitment to USW’s Rapid Response grassroots political program. Prior to assuming his current role, Hall served as District 10’s staff representative and, as organizing coordinator, represented the USW at a 2016 White House summit.
JoAnne Sessa has served as secretary-treasurer of SEIU Local 668 since 2015. She also chairs the budget and finance committee for the 20,000-member union, which represents Pennsylvania social service employees in both the private and public sectors. In addition, Sessa serves as executive vice president of the Delaware County Central Labor Council-AFL-CIO, a coalition of 30 local unions that collectively represent more than 24,000 workers.
Veteran labor operative Reesa Kossoff heads the Pennsylvania SEIU State Council, where she has long overseen the organization’s political programs. As the 2022 election season heats up, Kossoff is in high gear – organizing with grassroots tactics like door knocking, which had gone on pandemic hiatus in 2020, as well as new social media strategies honed during that election cycle. Kossoff previously worked in a number of political and labor roles, including as a regional press director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
A longtime leader for the Philadelphia-based National Union of Hospital and Healthcare Employees, John Hundzynski currently serves as a vice president of the national organization as well as executive vice president of NUHHE’s District 1199C. He is the longtime chief negotiator in collective bargaining for Pennsylvania and New Jersey hospitals, universities and nursing homes. Hundzynski, a U.S. Army veteran, got his start in union organizing as an employee of Jefferson and Hahnemann University Hospitals.
Over a two-decade career, Robert Brooks has devoted himself to firefighting and to his fellow firefighters in equal measure. Brooks, now president of the Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association, has been involved with unions since joining the Bethlehem fire department in 2005, serving in various leadership capacities with Bethlehem Local 735 and the PPFFA. Brooks, who also owns a lawn care business, currently serves on the boards of the Pennsylvania State Fire Advisory Board as well as the Lehigh Valley International Airport.
Thomas C. Melisko Jr. serves as business manager at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 in Pittsburgh. Melisko heads a Local that represents 7,500 member workers and apprentices across 33 counties in Western Pennsylvania as well as part of Ohio. Under Melisko’s leadership, Local 66 lobbies for legislation and contracts that favor members’ wages, benefits and pensions; organizes events and fundraisers; sponsors scholarships and training programs; and promotes work opportunities with contractors, private businesses and municipalities.
When she’s not editing at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Diane Mastrull fights for better contracts and against layoffs as head of the NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia, which represents newspaper, radio and other media employees and as well as staff at several nonprofits. Mastrull, who is president of Local 38010 of the Communications Workers of America, leads advocacy for employees whose industries have seen a steady erosion of wages, benefits and job security. She also serves as Region 1 vice president for the national NewsGuild-CWA.
Pennsylvania State Troopers Association President David Kennedy is a fierce advocate for the group’s 4,300 active and retired police officers, defending the profession as police have come under scrutiny in the post-George Floyd era. Kennedy leads PSTA advocacy on behalf of troopers, including those involved in a range of legal and catastrophic situations, and has lobbied the Wolf administration for cadet training funds to reverse a decline in trooper ranks. Kennedy has also held leadership positions with his local Fraternal Order of Police Lodge.
While newly elected AFSCME Council 13 President Howard Thompson is a road foreman for Neshannock Township, you might say his father paved his path…to union leadership. Thompson’s father organized Neshannock workers as a member of the carpenters’ union, years before Thompson joined Local 2902 as a PennDOT employee. Thompson has since held numerous union leadership positions, serving as president of AFSCME District Council 85 and, until recently, vice president of Council 13, which represents 65,000 public and private non-profit Pennsylvania employees.
Susan Scattaregia leads Pittsburgh-based Local 57, representing workers throughout Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Scattaregia advocates for a membership comprised mainly of hospitality workers in food service at the region’s casinos, airports, convention center and hotels.
Nicole Hunt, President of Unite Here Local 634, makes sure the organization’s 2,200 public school cafeteria employees and aides work under a fair contract. Hunt’s membership consists primarily of employees of the School District of Philadelphia, a subset of the 7,000 hospitality workers who collectively comprise Unite Here’s membership.
And Philadelphia visitors looking for hotels with a unionized workforce can thank Rosslyn Wuchinich and her team at Unite Here Local 274, where she is president. Wuchinich represents 4,000 members who work in hospitality at many of Philadelphia’s marquee hotels and as food service employees of the city’s stadiums, universities and school cafeterias.
When taekwondo grand master Philip Ameris isn't teaching martial arts, he's putting his strategy skills to use as president of the Western Pennsylvania Laborers' Union. Ameris heads the regional affiliate of the Laborers' International Union of North America, where he leads public advocacy for a construction workers' organization with locals in 33 counties, as well as a training center. In addition to being a longtime union leader, Ameris runs a New Kensington martial arts school and has taught self-defense to local law enforcement.
Jeff Ney's leadership skills have been evident throughout a career that has included spearheading a community garden program, coaching high school swimming and managing budgets for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, where he is currently treasurer. The former longtime elementary teacher has been involved with labor throughout his career, holding a variety of leadership positions at the Wilkes-Barre Area Education Association as well as with the PSEA. Ney currently chairs the Association's budget, audit and property committees and has a special focus on member engagement.
Nina Esposito-Visgitis grew up watching her father, a longtime Pittsburgh school teacher, participate in several successful union strikes. Decades later, Esposito-Visgitis heads the same union, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. In recent years, she led a near-strike to successful concessions from the District, served as chief negotiator for recent contracts, and championed pandemic safety and workplace standards. Esposito-Visgitis also organized the PFT Grassroots Committee for Special Education, co-founded Great Public Schools Pittsburgh, and serves on the American Federation of Teachers’ K-12 Program and Policy Council.
Secretary Jennifer Berrier is a 16-year veteran of the State Department of Labor and Industry, where she manages an agency with 5,000 employees in 200 offices across the commonwealth. Previously, as deputy secretary, Berrier oversaw benefits and services for vulnerable workers and people with disabilities, certified building safety and facilitated labor resolutions. An attorney by training, Berrier has also directed the Bureau of Occupational and Industrial Safety, serving as the department's legal counsel and prosecuting labor and employment law cases.
Republican Sen. Camera Bartolotta is majority chair of the Pennsylvania State Senate’s Labor & Industry Committee, where she supervises state policy around issues like workers’ compensation and workplace safety. Bartolotta, who represents Beaver, Greene and Washington Counties, recently led a Senate inquiry into delayed payments, fraud and other flaws in the state’s unemployment compensation system.
Health care workers and unemployment compensation have been pandemic priorities for state Sen. Christine Tartaglione, the Senate Labor & Industry Committee’s Democratic chair. The Philadelphian has sponsored legislation to protect health care employees from mandatory overtime, and created the Pennsylvania Center for Health Careers, which recruited more health care workers.
In his last term representing Berks and Lancaster Counties, state Rep. Jim Cox is majority chair of the Pennsylvania House Labor and Industry Committee. Cox, a Republican, has spearheaded legislation to expand state workforce development initiatives and reform public union activity, as well as presiding over hearings involving unemployment compensation and the state workers' insurance fund.
State Rep. Gerald Mullery, a Democrat from Luzerne County who is also retiring, is the minority chair of the Pennsylvania Legislature’s Labor & Industry Committee. Mullery has sponsored legislation to expand whistleblower protections and to protect meatpacking and food processing workers, and championed the 2021 unemployment compensation bill.
Since being elected in 2016, state Sen. Sharif Street has been a champion for organized labor. He has been a member of LIUNA Laborers Local 57 for the past six years and holds a 100% voting record in support of labor unions. His belief that “unions protect workers” – evidenced through his personal experience – has been the foundation of his advocacy in Harrisburg, including his direct support on the ground, frequently joining workers on the picket lines and in contract negotiations.
A year after becoming Western Pennsylvania district director for 32BJ SEIU in 2014, Sam Williamson led a successful contract campaign on behalf of 1,000 Pittsburgh security guards. The episode cemented Williamson’s status as a labor leader, a path he began as a hotel waiter and continued throughout decades of successful grassroots organizing with food service employees. At 32BJ SEIU, Williamson represents 6,500 Pittsburgh food service employees and security officers. He is also the co-founder of Pittsburgh UNITED, a social justice coalition.
In the third year of pandemic challenges that have stretched health care workers thin, Maureen May crusades for contracts that emphasize workplace security, safe staffing levels and greater health care funding. May, a Temple University Hospital nurse, is president of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, the commonwealth’s fastest-increasing union for nurses and health professionals. May advocates in Harrisburg and beyond for policies that benefit PASNAP’s membership of 9,000 and growing.
Veteran labor mediator and arbitrator James Darby chairs the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, a division of the State Department of Labor and Industry. Darby oversees the agency that enforces state labor laws and promotes collective bargaining as a means of dispute resolution in both public and private sectors. He has served as legal counsel for both former Gov. Bob Casey Sr. and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., when the latter was state auditor general, as well as for the National Labor Relations Board and the State Treasury Department.
Brian Pollitt met Willie Brown when both were West Philly transit operators in the 1990s. The pair climbed the ranks of union leadership together, winning the presidency and vice presidency of Transport Workers Union Local 234 on the same ticket. Last year, Brown stepped down and Pollitt assumed the top post at SEPTA’s largest labor union, which represents 5,000-plus trolley and train operators and mechanics.
Kevin Boyle heads Philadelphia-based Ironworkers Local 401, where he serves as both the business manager and financial secretary-treasurer for a union affiliated with the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers of America. Boyle, who has a construction background, represents 700 active members who undergo a four-year training program to work with structural steel, pre-engineered metal buildings and other reinforcing and ornamental steel installations.
Greg Bernarding was elected business manager of Iron Workers Local Union number 3 in 2018. In this role, he steered his 1,800 members through the challenges of working through restrictions and disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Bernarding also oversees the Pittsburgh union's apprenticeship and training center, promoting the industry at a time when infrastructure spending is on the rise, and has also served as a trustee for the union's pension plan.
Kerry Zettlemoyer represents nearly 1,000 experienced metal workers as business manager of Iron Workers Local 404. Zettlemoyer's union, part of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers, is based in Harrisburg but includes members across 30 Pennsylvania counties. Under Zettlemoyer’s leadership, Local 404 is also a member of the Ironworkers District Council of Philadelphia, a local advocacy group for the steel industry.
Tony Seiwell is the Business Manager of the Laborers’ District Council of Eastern Pennsylvania, where he leads five local unions representing more than 4,000 members – including construction laborers, healthcare workers, warehouse workers, corrections officers, and other public sector employees – across 29 counties. Seiwell also serves as a vice-president for the Pennsylvania State Building & Construction Trades Council, as vice-president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Executive Council, and on the Luzerne County Community College Board of Trustees.
Donald Wanamaker represents shop iron workers throughout the Keystone state, New Jersey and Delaware. Wanamaker is the business manager for Iron Workers Local No. 502, as well as serving as the union's financial secretary-treasurer and a national delegate. He advocates for better wages, benefits and pensions as well as promoting job opportunities on behalf of union members who work as welders and fabricators of structural, ornamental and other steel constructions.
Based in Scranton, David Callis serves as business manager and president of Ironworkers Local 521, a local chapter of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers of America. Callis is himself a first-class fitter for McGregor Industries, a Dunmore, Pennsylvania outfit that produces and installs metal for construction projects. His hands-on industry knowledge guides the union’s political advocacy – as Local 521 stands to benefit from infrastructure investment spearheaded by a president who just happens to be from Scranton himself.
George Zalar leads a politically active union based in Harrisburg: Ironworkers Local No. 404, an affiliate of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers of America. Zalar heads a union whose members work in various construction roles as welders, reinforcers and fabricators of complex steel structures throughout central Pennsylvania. A labor and construction veteran, Zalar also promotes ties between his Local and the community, spearheading fundraising and promoting his membership for important area projects.
Testy contract negotiations with the Pittsburgh Port Authority are just the latest challenge for Ross V. Nicotero, who was elected last year to head Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85. This past spring, Nicotero defended members angry over the Port Authority’s vaccine mandate, 80 of whom were eventually fired after work stoppages that worsened an existing driver shortage. Now Nicotero is hoping to win not only what he calls better treatment for his workers, but also terms that will attract more drivers to the union.
Earlier this year, Gregory Blose announced nearly $300,000 in new state funding for the apprenticeship program he oversees for Sheet Metal Workers Local 12, where he serves as business manager and financial secretary-treasurer. During his decade-plus as a union official, Blose has negotiated several contracts on behalf of his 1,100 members and continues to lead the organization’s political advocacy. Blose also serves on the executive board of the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania.
Longtime Business Manager Kenneth Broadbent has presided over a period of growth for Pittsburgh-based Steamfitters Local 449. Broadbent has expanded membership through aggressive recruitment and a skills training program while promoting opportunities for his workers from government infrastructure investment as well as increased drilling in the Marcellus Shale energy project. This year, Broadbent inaugurated the 109-year-old union’s new headquarters complex in Harmony, Pennsylvania. He also serves as the national union’s vice president for District 2, representing the mMid-Atlantic.
Since 2013, Paul Anthony has led IBEW Local 375, a Lehigh Valley-based union of workers in electrical construction, public works, television and communications, and power generation. As business manager and financial secretary of the 1,000-member union, Anthony has long emphasized relationships with area businesses and communities. He serves on the boards of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, the Building and Construction Trades Council of the Lehigh Valley, the Workforce Board of Lehigh Valley, and the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.
Pittsburgh union leader Thomas R. McIntyre is the newly installed business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 5, which he joined in 1984. McIntyre also serves as the financial secretary of Local 5, which was established 125 years ago by workers of the then-fledgling electrical industry. In addition, McIntyre serves as secretary/treasurer for the Pittsburgh Building and Construction Trades Council and is a board member of the Joint Apprenticeship Trust Fund and Labor Management Trust Fund.
Experienced union leader Jeff Binz is the Region 9 director for the United Auto Workers. He represents automotive, aerospace and steel industry workers in most of Pennsylvania, western and central New York, and New Jersey. Binz began his career with General Motors, the same company that employed both his parents, also UAW members. Over a long career, he has held leadership positions with UAW Local 731 and the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, as well as with Region 9’s community action and retired workers programs.
As International District 2 Vice President, Chuck Knisell represents one of the United Mine Workers of America’s most diverse memberships – including coal miners and technicians as well as workers in manufacturing and health care, corrections officers and public employees throughout the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada. Working closely with Sens. Bob Casey Jr. and Joe Manchin (WV), as well as members of Congress and state legislators, Knisell leads union advocacy for worker safety, miner-specific health benefits and career transition assistance for laid-off energy workers.
Ben Connors promotes partnerships between contractors and organized labor as head of the General Building Contractors Association, the Philadelphia chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America. He leads an organization that provides advocacy, networking opportunities, safety services and training programs to its 250 member companies. Connors also serves on the AGC of America’s executive leadership committee, the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia’s board of directors and the American Heart Association Hard Hats with Heart executive leadership team.
After several years as deputy political director for the carpenters’ union, Tori Shriver was named political director last year. She oversees a program that mobilizes union workers against anti-unionizing legislation and tax fraud and promotes prevailing wage laws, fair contracts and strong apprenticeship programs.
Drew Simpson III, vice president of the Regional Council, is also regional manager of Carpenters Local Union 445 in Scranton, where he is a longtime member. Simpson also serves on the Pennsylvania Joint Task Force on Misclassification and Employees, a state entity that scrutinizes address wage theft and worker misclassification.
Sisters in the Brotherhood Committee Co-Chair Layla Bibi has consistently championed women in the building industry – including as an instructor at the Carpenters Training Center in Las Vegas, where she helps train the next generation of women carpenters. Bibi is an executive member of Local 158 and a member of the National Association of Women in Construction and the Carpenters Contractor Trust Board.
Jim Irwin serves as president of the Lehigh Valley Labor Council, one of Pennsylvania’s AFL-CIO regional councils. Irwin leads an organization that speaks and advocates for organized labor throughout the Lehigh Valley, championing legislation around the right to organize, workplace safety, affordable health care and other priorities. Irwin, a longtime AFSCME member, also represents labor on the board of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
With more than four decades of union activism to his credit, Jack Lee is currently president of Erie-Crawford Central Labor Council, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Lee is a longtime member and leader of Roofers 210, where he has served as business manager and earned a reputation for spearheading community service projects. Lee also represents the labor voice at the local level by serving as the supervisor of Summit Township.
On a given day, Rich Lazer might be negotiating a major union contract or mediating a worker dispute. As deputy mayor of labor for the City of Philadelphia, Rich Lazer is the chief liaison between Mayor Jim Kenney’s office and the labor community, guiding the administration’s labor policy. He is also responsible for the Department of Labor, where he supervises labor law enforcement as well as negotiations and grievance resolution. Lazer has worked for Kenney since the latter’s City Council days, including on reelection campaigns.
Business Manager Ronald Tomasetti oversees Heavy and Highway Local 158, an affiliate of the Laborers International Union of North America. He advocates for construction-friendly policy and employment opportunities for a union that represents workers in building, construction and manufacturing jobs in 29 countries throughout central and northeastern Pennsylvania. Tomasetti is also a longtime trustee for the Laborers’ District Council of Easter Pennsylvania Education and Training Fund.
Under Secretary-Treasurer Anne Marie Zaren’s purview, the Philadelphia Joint Board, Workers United recently established a $1 million-and-counting fund to support striking Starbucks workers. Zaren handles finances for the SEIU-affiliated membership, whose membership has diversified over the decades from textile and apparel manufacturing to workers in hospitality, retail, industrial laundries and other trades. Her oversight extends from day-to-day union finances to various workers’ campaigns and member benefits.
Whether supporting angry employees at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and or retweeting pro-union activists protesting Amazon, Devan Spear rallies behind workers as head of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice. Spears heads a 20-year-old grassroots coalition of labor unions, student and community organizations and religious groups that lobbies for social and economic justice in Philadelphia’s workplaces and underfunded public schools. This year, Spears is overseeing a campaign to fight for new workplace health and safety legislation.
Nicole Kligerman is the founding director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, where she organizes house cleaners, nannies and caregivers to fight for better pay and working conditions. Kligerman spearheaded the successful campaign for Philadelphia’s 2020 Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, a landmark piece of legislation. Previously, she organized hospital and hotel workers and led efforts to make Philadelphia a sanctuary city. Kligerman, a fifth-generation Philadelphian, received the 2019 Philadelphia Award for her contributions to the city’s underserved communities.
Nearly 30 years ago, novice boilermaker Michael Stanton was accepted into an apprentice program that would take him to the leadership of Boilermakers Local 154, where he was recently appointed business manager. Stanton, who has taught at the Pittsburgh local’s weld school, is now the Local’s apprenticeship coordinator and serves on its scholarship committee, championing the next generation of boilermakers. He has also served as vice president and president, as a convention delegate and as a Local 154 representative at national industry-related events.
Workforce development is Robert Cherry's passion. Last year, as Pennsylvania was emerging from the pandemic’s economic shocks, Cherry assumed leadership of Partner4Work, the Allegheny region's workforce development board. Cherry was previously deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and held various leadership roles at Employee Milwaukee, that city’s workforce development board. In Pittsburgh, Cherry has enhanced Partner4Work's collaboration with PA CareerLink and expanded employment and training partnerships between the city and local employers.
As an international vice president of the Communications Workers of America, Ed Mooney represents Philadelphia-based District 2-13, which includes Locals throughout Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic. He is also the executive officer of CWA Print Shops, which promotes the region’s union printers and publishers. Mooney oversees the District’s PAC, which advocates on behalf of workers in fields including not only media and telecommunications but also health care, food service, law enforcement and higher education. He previously served as president of CWA Local 13000.
Representing six counties in the political heart of the Keystone State, David Gash leads the Harrisburg Region Central Labor Council, one of 500 regional councils affiliated with the AFL-CIO. Gash, the Council’s longtime president, guides an active political program that campaigns for pro-union candidates and causes related to economic and social justice. Most recently, Gash joined fellow labor leaders and Pennsylvania politicians to champion state legislation aimed at upgrading worker safety standards.
As president of Communications Workers of America Local 13000, James J. Gardler oversees one of America’s largest and most diverse unions. He leads a Philadelphia-based organization with offices in Eastern and Western Pennsylvania, representing and advocating for 4,700 workers throughout industries that include not only diverse media and communications, but also airlines, higher education, health care, manufacturing, public service and law enforcement. Gardler, a 30-year CWA member, also serves as secretary-treasurer of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO.
With a membership covering the entire Keystone State, Julie Daloisio serves as president of the Communications Workers of America Local 13500. From headquarters in Lehigh County, Daloisio leads a statewide union that includes 600 workers from across various sectors of media, communications, and other public and private sector roles. This year, Daloisio has been active in contract negotiations, fighting for higher wages to combat rising inflation.
Richard Muttik helps keep Pennsylvanians plugged in – literally. As business manager and financial secretary of IBEW Local 126, Muttik represents electrical linemen, tree-trimmers, equipment operators, maintenance and other workers who keep the lights on throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, promoting partnerships between IBEW workers and local employers and municipalities. Muttik has been involved with Local 126 for more than 20 years, serving as president before assuming the top job in 2011.
As head of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, John McNesby is one of the most powerful figures in Philadelphia law enforcement. It’s been a challenging couple of years: The city police force has endured recent controversies over crime-fighting tactics and racial justice, while McNesby and his union have often been at odds with progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner. Still, over 15 years as president, McNesby has successfully fought for better contracts, as well as overseeing the Lodge’s new Northeast Philly headquarters.
David Daquelente heads the trade association whose 240 members account for 80% of Pittsburgh-area commercial construction projects. As executive director of the Master Builders' Association of Western Pennsylvania, Daquelente is the voice of a powerful local industry, advocating for favorable legislation as well as promoting his membership for area projects. Daquelente also chairs the local employer organization committee of the Association of Union Constructors, a national trade group, and previously headed the Ironworker Employers Association of Western Pennsylvania.
Kimberly Kinsler serves as a trustee for the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund, which serves 4,000 students each year at its Philadelphia facility. Kinsler is also assistant to the president at NUHHCE, a 17,000-strong organization that is affiliated with AFSCME and AFL-CIO. In these roles, Kinsler helps support a union that trains the next generation of health care workers, including ESL, GED, nursing and EMT tracks as well as career coaching, apprenticeships and case management.
Thomas Melcher is the business manager of the Pittsburgh Regional Building Trades Council, representing the Allegheny region’s building trades unions through legislative advocacy as well as strategic public- and private-sector partnerships. Melcher is a 47-year member and five-term business agent at Iron Workers Local 3. He also serves as vice president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and of the Allegheny County Labor Council, and co-chairs the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania.
As Philadelphia’s economy returns to its pre-pandemic rhythm, H. Patrick Clancy connects local workers with opportunity. Clancy heads Philadelphia Works, the city’s workforce development board, managing a $65 million budget and services for 40,000 Philadelphians annually and partnering with area employers and institutions including the Community College of Philadelphia, District 1199c and Jefferson University. Clancy previously spearheaded an $80 million welfare-to-work program at the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and served as regional director for the Southeast PA Workforce Investment Boards.
Business Manager Michael Knecht heads Local 1174 of the Laborers International Union of North America, which represents primarily construction workers. He leads an 85-year-old, Allentown-based union that provides health and pension funds and other social benefits for its 700 members and organizes political action on behalf of union-friendly candidates. Knecht is also a trustee for the Laborers’ District Council of Eastern Pennsylvania Education and Training Fund.
Michael Wise is the business manager for Laborers Local 158, a Harrisburg affiliate of the Laborers International Union of North America. He is also a trustee for the Laborers’ District Council of Eastern Pennsylvania Education and Training Fund. At Local 158, Wise represents more than 500 workers at power plants, masonry contractors, hazardous waste removal, demolition and related industries throughout north-central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.
As business manager of Laborers’ Local 130, Joseph Rostock represents 400 workers in fields as varied as demolition, lead abatement, scaffolding and forklift operation. Rostock heads the Scranton-based affiliate of the Laborers International Union of North America, whose profile has risen as the U.S. embarks on a new infrastructure spending program, creating opportunities for LiUNA’s construction trades membership. Rostock also advocates for union workers as a trustee for the Laborers’ District Council of Easter Pennsylvania Education and Training Fund.
Anna Ramos brings more than 20 years of workforce development experience to the Lancaster County Workforce Development Board, where she is the executive director. Previously, Ramos was the Board’s chief operating officer; she has also served as business initiatives director for the Lancaster Chamber and, for 15 years, worked directly with job seekers at PA CareerLink. Ramos also currently leads the Career Ready Lancaster! initiative and is a board trustee for the Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County, a social services organization.
For 25 years, Nancy Dischinat has headed the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, helping to facilitate economic development by aligning the region’s workers with relevant education and the evolving needs of area employers. In collaboration with PA CareerLink, Dischinat oversees a nonprofit organization that offers training and career services, apprenticeships, assistance with unemployment compensation and community initiatives. Dischinat also works closely with legislators and policymakers to advance workforce development goals.
Over a quarter-century at the helm of Community Integrated Services, Susan Schonfeld has guided the university pilot program’s evolution into an employment agency that annually serves 2,000 people with disabilities in sSoutheastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. Schonfeld oversees career transition coaching for youths and older people entering the workforce, help with benefits and job interviews, and various training programs. She won the 2014 Best Practices Award from National APSE, an organization that promotes inclusive employment, and sits on the board of APSE’s Pennsylvania chapter.
The commonwealth’s second-largest workforce development board, serving tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians annually, is helmed by Jesse McCree. McCree is CEO of South Central PA Works, the Harrisburg-based agency that addresses workforce development needs throughout Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lebanon, Perry, and York counties, operating six PA CareerLink sites and $14 million in training and employment programs. Previously, McCree worked in government relations for the Pennsylvania Development Association.
In Luzerne and Schuylkill counties, Patti Lenahan is tasked with ensuring that the local workforce meets the demands of Pennsylvania’s fast-transforming economy. Lenahan is executive director of the Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Investment Board, one of the regional nonprofit agencies whose mission is to align the labor force with appropriate education, apprenticeships and work opportunities. Lenahan, who has helmed the WIB for nearly a decade, works closely with local businesses, institutions and community organizations to identify and resolve workforce challenges.
Attorney Debra Friedman brings her expertise in labor and employment law to the Philadelphia Youth Network, an organization that partners youths and young adults with education and employment opportunities. As PYN board chair, Friedman works closely with the organization’s leadership and serves on its executive and human capital committees to facilitate youth employment. Friedman is also a member at Cozen O’Connor, where she helps employers solve complex HR problems and counsels them on compliance with federal, state and local employment laws.
As Pennsylvania’s economy evolves, Pamela Streich aims to connect workers and employers in the state’s rural north. Streich, who heads Workforce Solutions for North Central PA, manages strategic public-private partnerships and oversees training, apprenticeship and career placement initiatives across six counties – Potter, McLean, Elk, Cameron, Jefferson and Clearfield. Before coming to Workforce Solutions as director of strategic planning, Streich spent nearly two decades with the North Central Pennsylvania Planning and Development Commission.
From apprenticeships to career counseling, adult literacy education to resume writing workshops, Erica Mulberger manages it all as executive director of Advance Central PA. An accountant by training, Mulberger has been with the former Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation for a dozen years, starting as finance director. In addition to overseeing the organization’s recent rebranding, Mulberger has expanded Advance Central PA’s individual services and industry partnerships and transitioned more of its offerings online during the pandemic.
As deputy secretary for workforce development at the state Department of Labor and Industry, Sheila Ireland leverages a $255 million federal and state budget aimed at ensuring that all Pennsylvanians have education and access to good jobs, while the state workforce has a steady pipeline of qualified employees. Ireland previously headed the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Workforce Development, where she was responsible for a comprehensive plan to create career pathways for vulnerable populations. She also held workforce development roles with the University City District.
Neither snow nor rain nor COVID-19 stops the mail – and Mike Stephenson makes sure the commonwealth postal workforce is properly compensated. As president of the Pennsylvania Postal Workers Union, Stephenson has guided his membership through pandemic challenges including increased volume, labor shortages and controversy around COVID-19 vaccination mandates. This year, Stephenson announced the union is in favor of the USPS plan to transition to electric vehicles for its delivery fleet, noting the health, environmental and financial upsides to the move.
In a city with its share of high-profile fires, Mike Bresnan heads the union that represents Philly firefighters and the paramedics who join them to fight fires and save lives. Bresnan is serving his first term as president of International Association of Firefighters and Paramedics Local 22, of which he is a longtime board member. He represents a union with more than 5,000 members, including 3,000 active workers and incoming fire academy graduates twice a year.
In the poorest large city in America, John Dodds heads the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, a 47-year-old coalition that works on behalf of unemployed and impoverished residents. Dodd is the founding director of an organization composed of labor, community, religious and social groups that coordinates assistance with housing, transportation, job hunting and health and child care. Under Dodds' leadership, PUP also lobbies in Harrisburg and Philadelphia around issues including the minimum wage and the social safety net.
As pandemic challenges overwhelmed both out-of-work Pennsylvanians and the state unemployment system, Barney Oursler found himself busier than ever. Oursler is the longtime director of the Mon Valley Unemployed Committee, a Pittsburgh nonprofit that helps the unemployed navigate state benefits and aims to bridge the gaps between worker needs and the ever-shifting economy. Under Oursler’s leadership, the MVUC has successfully lobbied the governor’s office and his Department of Labor & Industry for worker-friendly policies, including a higher minimum wage and periodic extensions of unemployment benefits.
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