Joseph B. Uehlein, Founding President of the Labor Network for Sustainability, and Voices for a Sustainable Future. Joe is the former secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Union Department and former director of the AFL-CIO Center for Strategic Campaigns. Joe spent over 30 years doing organizing, bargaining, and strategic campaign work in the labor movement. Joe also served as the Secretary to the North American Coordinating Committee of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, and Mine Workers unions (ICEM). Joe also served on the United Nations commission on global warming from its inception in 1988 through the Kyoto Accords in 1997 until 2003. Joe is a founding board member of Ceres (Coalition for Environmentally responsible Economies), and served on the Ceres board for 23 years. Joe is a member of the National Advisory Board of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and served as a senior strategic advisor to the Blue Green Alliance for five years. Joe is a current board member of USCAN, the US Climate Action Network. In the early 1970’s he worked in an aluminum mill in Mechanicsburg, PA as a member of the United Steelworkers of America, and then on heavy and highway construction projects in Central Pennsylvania as a member of the Laborer’s International Union of North America. He also serves on the advisory board of the Future of Music Coalition. Joe is a musician, and a member of the American Federation of Musicians.
Michael Leon Guerrero, Executive Director of the Labor Network for Sustainability. Michael most recently served as the National Coordinator of the Climate Justice Alliance for the past two years. He brings 30 years of community organizing and alliance building experience to LNS. He was a field organizer and Executive Director at SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP) for 17 years, leading successful environmental and economic justice campaigns. He helped strengthen environmental policy and enforcement in low-income Chicano communities. Michael co-founded and served as the National Coordinator of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance from 2004-2012, playing a leadership role in organizing the World and US Social Forums. He also served as Executive Director of UNITY, an alliance of national alliances organizing in different sectors of working-class communities of color in the U.S. Michael serves on the boards of directors of Greenpeace, Inc. and the SWOP Action Fund, and is a former board member of Jobs with Justice.
Elizabeth Bunn is the former Director of the Organizing Department for the AFL-CIO having been appointed by AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka in February 2010, and having retired in 2017.
Prior to becoming Organizing Director, she held the position of Secretary-Treasurer of the International Union, UAW, a post to which she was first elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. This is the highest position held by a woman in UAW history.
She previously served as Vice-President of the UAW, a post to which she was elected in 1998 and served until being elected Secretary-Treasurer.
As Secretary-Treasurer, in addition to her duties as the chief financial officer for the UAW, she oversaw the UAW’s non-manufacturing organizing initiatives since 1998. In that capacity, she secured bargaining rights for more than 18,000 academic student employees at both public and private universities, supervised campaigns among contingent faculty at several universities and successful representation elections for thousands of gaming employees. She was also responsible for the organizing and bargaining of thousands of public employees. She negotiated landmark provisions addressing work-family balance and extending benefits to domestic partners.
As Organizing Director of the AFL-CIO, she has worked with affiliated unions to build their organizing capacity. In addition, under the leadership of President Trumka, the Organizing Department has accelerated global campaign initiatives, partnering with the global labor movement to counteract the power of multi-national corporations and to address head-on the effects of the unlimited mobility of capital.
The Department has also strengthened relationships with community allies in support of organizing and has worked to assist the hundreds of thousands of workers outside the scope of traditional labor laws as they engage in self-organizing to build power in creative, non-traditional ways.
Additionally, the Department has initiated innovative approaches to linking support for immigrant workers with worker organizing campaigns which has also helped create a pipeline for young Spanish speaking organizers into the labor movement.
Under Ms. Bunn’s leadership, the Department has spearheaded multi-union, industry-wide organizing efforts in support of working people, including the innovative and ambitious Jobs to Move America (JMA), which uses public policy to spur investment in good-paying, high road employment in passenger rail and bus manufacturing in the United States and along the supply chain. The JMA coalition effort has resulted in the first neutrality/majority sign-up agreement between a union and a Japanese manufacturing company operating in the U.S. Coalition efforts have also resulted in the commitment by the Chinese company, China South Railway Sifang to open a new assembly facility in the south side of Chicago, the first in decades.
Mike Cavanaugh joined the staff of the Labor Network for Sustainability as of February, 2019 as our Senior Strategic Advisor/Organizer after a lifetime of working in the labor movement as an organizer and advocate for workers and their unions.
A native of Chicago, Mike began working in the labor movement in 1973 as an organizer building community and student support across the Midwest for striking garment workers of the Farah manufacturing company in El Paso and San Antonio Texas. He went on to organize hospital workers, clothing and textile workers, warehouse workers, public employees and more with a focus on building labor-community alliances for social and economic justice in states throughout New England, where he eventually became the Secretary Treasurer of the New England Regional Joint Board of UNITE.
After leaving his union in 1999 to accept a position at the national AFL-CIO in Washington DC, Mike held a number of senior positions in the Federation’s Field Department working to build and strengthen the nationwide network of State Federations, Area and Central Labor Councils. When the 2013 AFL-CIO Convention elected Tefere Gebre, the first immigrant, refugee, and central labor council leader to be elected to the top leadership as its Executive Vice President, Mike joined Tefere as his Executive Assistant, a position he held until retiring from the national federation in 2018.
Mike has a B.A. in Studies for Social Change from Knox College in Galesburg Illinois, and a Masters Degree in Labor Studies from the University of Massachusetts. His wife Dianne of Portland Maine is Nurse Practitioner currently working in Queens, NY. Their children Jennifer and Brendan and their spouses Daniel and Michelle live in New Jersey as do their two grandchildren, (around whom the world rotates) Michael Graceon (3 years) and Liam Gregory (6 months).
Mike brings a lifetime of organizing experience and a passion for building a progressive labor movement to the important work of LNS. For all of our children and grandchildren – our efforts must be consistent and long term to build a just and sustainable economy, environment and society.
Jeremy Brecher is a writer, historian, and activist who is the author of more than a dozen books on labor and social movements. His book Strike!was described by Prof. Richard Flacks, UC Santa Barbara, as “the single most important book about the history of the American labor movement published in our time.” His book Building Bridges: The Emerging Grassroots Coalition of Labor and Community was described by Richard L. Trumka, then president of the United Mine Workers and now president of the AFL-CIO, as “a very helpful guide to the kind of coalition building unions will need in the struggles that lie ahead.” His three books on globalization, Global Visions, Global Village or Global Pillage, and Globalization from Below, and his award-winning documentary Global Village or Global Pillage?, made a significant contribution to the emergence of the global justice movement, aka “globalization from below.” His new book Save the Humans? Common Preservation in Action, just published by Paradigm Publishers, addresses how social movements make social change; it was described by Michael Pertschuk, former chair of the Federal Trade Commission, as “absolutely unique in its integration of engaging personal narratives of the author’s direct involvement in every significant social justice movement of the past four decades with his analytic history of previous movements.” Over the course of half a century Brecher has participated in — and lent his writing skills to — movements for civil rights, nuclear disarmament, peace in Vietnam, international labor rights, global economic justice, accountability for war crimes, climate protection, and many others. For many years he was Humanities Scholar in Residence at Connecticut Public Broadcasting and is the winner of five regional Emmy awards for his documentary movie work. He has also been a pioneer of participatory, community-based history, writing the guidebook History from Below: How to Uncover and Tell the Story of Your Community, Association, or Union, and helping a wide range of community historians create books, movies, and exhibits. Studs Terkel wrote that “Jeremy Brecher’s work is astonishing and refreshing; and, God knows, necessary.”
Becky Glass joined the Labor Network for Sustainability in early 2010. She has a strong background in economic and social justice organizing, energy and environmental policy, and nonprofit management. She served for 12 years as the founding Executive Director of the Midwest States Center, supporting statewide civic engagement coalitions in the Midwest. Prior to that she served as Midwest field director for The Youth Project, a national foundation that supported economic and social justice organizations and civic engagement groups, and before that she directed the Energy Project at the Washington DC”“based Center for Policy Alternatives. She serves on the boards of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Public Campaign, and the Public Campaign Action Fund. Becky holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning with an emphasis in transportation and energy from the University of Illinois. She and her writer-publisher-farmer husband Jim Hare raise grass-fed beef on their small Wisconsin farm, 90 miles East of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Their daughter Amber just graduated from Boston University.
Veronica Wilson has worked in labor education for the past ten years. Veronica recently organized with LNS the first Los Angeles Labor Convergence on Climate Change. Before joining LNS, she managed cross-border network of labor leaders, organizers, academics and activists for a global solidarity project at the UCLA Labor Center. She is particularly interested in promoting partnerships and solidarity relationships among community and labor organizations that address environmental justice and just transitions. Her graduate study research was on land rights, privatization of communal land, and women’s cooperatives in rural Mexico. Veronica is a volunteer committee leader for the Many Winters Gathering of Elders, an annual four-day event to listen and learn about Native American struggles for cultural sustainability, self-determination, and sovereignty for future generations. Veronica has a master’s degree in Latin American Studies from the University of California, San Diego.
Judy Asman joined our team as Administrative Manager in August 2018. Judy comes to us with extensive background in administrative and project management, including owning and operating a Web design and PR firm. Judy started with LNS in July on an interim basis, playing a critical role helping LNS to organize the Los Angeles Labor Convergence on Climate Change. Her ability to approach tasks with both a broad and granular view are a tremendous asset to our organizing efforts. We benefit greatly from her 30 years as a professional in the communications and marketing sector. In addition to being a part of the LNS team, Judy is also a certified personal trainer at a premier sports club in Albuquerque. By day, she works in the #movement and the #resistance. By night, she works with movement and resistance!
Lauren Burke is a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity and recently completed a Masters in Inequality and Social Science at the London School of Economics. Her academic research focuses on the intersection of climate justice and labor rights in order to inform social movement organizing strategies.
In 2006, after several years of engagement as a student organizer at Yale University and a member HERE Local 35, Lauren became a worker organizer with UNITE HERE.
Over the next decade she organized and led campaigns that won union recognition for over 1,400 hotel and food service workers. Most of her work with UNITE HERE was focused on getting people to face their fears, believe in themselves, and take the risks necessary to demand from their employers either union recognition or a better labor contract. Lauren has recruited and trained scores of grassroots leaders; she has taught organizers how to replicate this recruitment and training with other workers. She has designed and led campaigns so that these risks actually lead to concrete and defensible improvements in workers’ lives.
In 2012, Lauren led the Real Food Real Jobs campaign at five Washington, DC-area universities. This campaign linked the provision of healthy and sustainable food in university cafeterias with access to healthy and affordable food in the communities where university workers lived. The success of Real Food Real Jobs depended upon recognizing cooks and food service workers as the authorities on providing healthy sustainable food to their communities. In the end, the campaign translated workers’ pride in their jobs into power that they mobilized against the deskilling of their labor.
Most recently, her interest in the centrality of workers’ voices to issues of ecological sustainability led Lauren to work with the Labor Network for Sustainability where she is leading our work on labor engagement with the youth climate strikes.
Joshua D. Dedmond, LNS Youth Organizer
Labor Network for Sustainability is very excited to welcome Joshua D. Dedmond as our LNS Youth Organizer!
A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Joshua is greatly involved in his community. He is the son of a Baptist Minister and a Registered Nurse. He considers his work as an organizer as an extension of his religious convictions and ministry and an opportunity to present an alternative of liberation to the people who are held captive by oppressive systems of exploitation.
Joshua has been a part of some the most recent fights for labor and collective power in the south.
He began his career as an organizer with the UAW’s Global Organizing Institute. He worked primarily on the campaign for Nissan’s workers organizing to have a free and fair union election at the Nissan America plant in Canton, Mississippi. He has also worked as an organizer for low wage workers in the Fight for $15 and a Union, and their Mid-South Organizing Committee.
He has worked as an Organizer for State and Municipal Employees in Mississippi, as a Local Organizer for the CWA, and during the 2016 election cycle he also served as the Central Mississippi Field Director for the Bernie Sanders campaign for President.
We are looking forward to Joshua helping LNS to connect with young workers and youth groups within the labor movement around the climate crisis!
Leo Blain is driven by a love of the outdoors, and the need to protect wild spaces. Leo first acted on his values at 9 years old when he joined the Young Activist Club at his elementary school.
Over the next four years, he organized, lobbied, and took direct action with his peers and ultimately won their campaign to eliminate polystyrene food service ware from his school and the city of Takoma Park, MD.
This experience provided the activist skills and the spark for the youth-focused, climate justice work he pursued throughout high school. Raised by two career union organizers, Leo has always had a strong commitment to workers’ rights along with environmental justice, and it’s likely his first time on the strike line was in utero.
In 2017, Leo attended the Conserve School, in Land O’ Lakes Wisconsin, where he honed his skills in environmental science, forestry, conservation, and advocacy. When he returned to traditional high school, he co-founded the student-led non-profit organization Youth Climate Summit USA. The organization hosts annual summits, with speakers, panelists, and workshop leaders from across the environmental movement, to educate youth about the seriousness of climate change and the power of their voices to influence adult decision-makers to take action. Leo developed an online toolkit so students at any school can organize a summit. Recently, Youth Climate Summit USA partnered with the Smithsonian institution to host ten climate summits at Smithsonian-affiliated venues across the country.
In fall of 2018, Leo, along with Kallan Benson of Fridays For Future and Jerome Foster II of the Climate Reporter, spoke in front of the Supreme Court in support of the plaintiffs in the Juliana V. The United States lawsuit. Leo has also been active as a volunteer with the Sunrise Movement, and was on the D.C. climate strike team for the first “deep strike” in March of 2019.
Leo is now a freshman at Guilford College, in Greensboro, North Carolina. He began working with the Labor Network for Sustainability this year and is focused on bringing youth voices into contact with the labor movement as well as enhancing LNS social media presence.
In Memoriam: LNS Co-Founder Tim Costello passesd away in December 2009. He had over 40 years of work and union experience in the area. He helped organize and served (until July 2005) as Coordinator of the Boston based North American Alliance for Fair Employment a network of 65 unions and community based organizations in the US and Canada. Costello was a truck driver and workplace activist for many years; following that, he worked on the staff of SEIU. He has extensive collective bargaining experience in a number of industries.