The Labor Network for Sustainability is pleased to introduce you to our new Co-Directors, Joshua Dedmond and Liz Ratzloff. Both are experienced activists in labor, environmental, and other movements who have been promoted from the LNS staff to serve as Co-Directors.
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 of the most recent fights for labor and collective power in the South.
Joshua 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 and as a local organizer for the CWA. During the 2016 election cycle he also served as the Central Mississippi Field Director for the Bernie Sanders campaign for President.
I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity to work as a Co-Executive Director for the Labor Network for Sustainability. It is my hope to serve with Liz as we work to constantly ground the mission of LNS as a relentless force in the labor and climate justice movements. I look forward to developing real and practical alternatives to the decaying fossil-fuels industry, and making an invigorated push to work towards an economy that is regenerative and benefits everyone. I look forward to engaging with labor, the climate justice movement, and local formations in establishing a movement for good jobs on a living planet.
Liz Ratzloff started working with LNS in October 2021 to research the effects of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification on workers and how to ensure the transportation sector is a source of high-quality, family sustaining jobs and contributes to a sustainable and equitable future.
Liz got her start as an organizer fighting for abortion access and local LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination protections as a college student in Michigan. While getting her Masters in Environmental Informatics and Conservation Ecology, Liz began working as the staff organizer for the University of Michigan graduate employees union, AFT Local 3550. In 2020, Liz organized a campus-wide strike for a safe and just pandemic response and led efforts to establish a multi-union People’s Budget, centering the priorities of workers and the broader community through participatory budgeting.
Liz founded and chairs the Just Transition Committee at the AFL-CIO Huron Valley Area Labor Federation where she is building a strong, labor-climate movement to move the local economy off of fossil fuels, while ensuring good jobs for workers. Liz is also the Vice President of the Huron Valley Workers Organizing and Research Center (HV-WORC), which provides research and education in support of worker efforts to organize.
I’m incredibly grateful to be in this new role and have the opportunity to work alongside staff, workers, and communities in continuing LNS’s mission to build towards a transition to a society that is ecologically sustainable and economically just. As a labor organizer and environmental scientist, I strongly believe that in order to address urgent environmental challenges like climate change, pollution, and natural resource depletion, we must transition away from a fossil fuel-powered and extractive economy toward a low-carbon, regenerative, and resilient economy. We can ensure workers and communities aren’t left behind in the process by fostering deep relationships between the labor and climate movements and building power at the grassroots level. Our success in building grassroots power is dependent on about ability to center the voices of those most affected by the climate crisis and the policies we enact, including rank and file union members, young workers, frontline communities, and Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.