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Young Workers Advisory Council

Young Workers Advisory Council  2017 YWAC Candidate Statements

Jessica Akers

In 2010, Akers joined Arkansas AFL-CIO as the state political and mobilization coordinator and in 2013 she was elected as its secretary-treasurer. She is the youngest state federation officer. She got her start in the labor movement working as a canvasser and office manager with Working America, a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, concentrating on member recruitment and mobilization, and issue-based campaigns. She is a former member of CWA, an associate Steelworker and a member of OPEIU local 105. She currently serves on the State Federation and CLC National Advisory Committee.

Akers graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in international economic development. She is also a graduate of the AFL-CIO Leadership Institute and served as a young worker trainer to the Leadership Institute in 2012 and 2013. She resides in downtown Little Rock.

Lorraine Barcant

Barcant is an associate architect for New York City public schools and member of AFSCME Local 375 where she develops new leaders through their “Next Wave” committee. Barcant is an activist member of NYC Young Workers and has taken a lead on issues such as student debt, economic inequality and climate change.

Tony Barlow

Barlow is a job steward and organizer for CWA Local 3204, chair of its community service committee, and co-chair and co-founder of the young workers group Atlanta Leaders of Tomorrow (ALOT). Barlow is a member of CBTU and a representative of Georgia's CWA Nextgen group.

Melinda Barrett

Barrett is currently in her fourth year as the elementary director of Hernando Classroom Teacher’s Association's (HCTA) executive board and her second as the chair of the Young Educators caucus. Barrett has worked as an elementary classroom teacher and is currently in her first year as an instructional practices coach. She is a founding member of the Florida Education Association's (FEA) Florida’s Young Remarkable Educators (FYRE) group. She has organized protests for public education, participated in state wide movements and looks to expand her work to the national level. She believes totally in public education and works tirelessly for her fellow educators in both her home state of Florida and across the nation. 

Barrett's “I’m Sorry” letter to the editor went viral in the spring of 2014. The letter, written to her students apologizing for the stress that standardized testing has caused them, brought a new perspective to the effects that mandated testing has on public school children.

Rachel Bryan

Bryan started her career in construction as a pre-apprentice at the Cypress Mandela Training Center in Oakland. She went on to become that program’s first graduate to complete a five-year electrical apprenticeship. A journey-level electrician, Bryan also serves as community liaison for IBEW local 595 in Dublin, Calif., as a delegate to the Alameda County Building Trades Council and on the executive committee of the Alameda Labor Council. She is an international representative for IBEW's civic and community engagement department.

Amy Burns

Burns has worked with NFFE-IAM for more than four years and currently serves as a National Business Representative in the Midwest region. While completing her education in Salt Lake City, Amy worked as a field organizer for the Utah Democratic Party and led several civic engagement initiatives on campus. Before accepting her current position at NFFE-IAM, Burns worked with the Young Machinists to develop a young worker community for federal employees within NFFE. She remains committed to expanding the influence of organized labor by recruiting more young workers and developing education, leadership, and mentorship opportunities for young unionists.

Ana Cabral

Ana Cabral is the political organizer for the Orange County Labor Federation. She started working in the labor movement after her experience working alongside warehouse workers. There she met many wonderful hard-working people struggling to get by, yet happy to have opportunities their home countries did not provide. This experience prompted her to work and support all workers, especially those who are marginalized because of their immigration status.

Born in Zacatecas, Mexico, Cabral immigrated to the U.S with her family at the age of three. She is a graduate of University of California, Irvine.

Eric Clinton

Eric Clinton is president of UNITE HERE Local 362, which represents 6,300 attractions, custodial and vacation planners at Walt Disney World and food service workers at the Orlando International Airport. Clinton is also the president of the Central Florida AFL-CIO, representing 40,000 working men and women in Central Florida.

As a Disney worker, Clinton first became active in his union in 1998 as a member and shop steward for his area at the then-Disney-MGM Studios. Signing up new members and enforcing the workers’ contract became a priority for him. Later, he became an executive board member of his local before joining UNITE HERE staff to work full-time for the organization in 2001. His first major campaign work was organizing some of the 60,000 members of UNITE HERE Local 226 during their 2002 citywide contract fight for casino workers in Las Vegas. Upon returning to Orlando, Fla., he became a union representative for Local 362, training and developing workplace leaders at Walt Disney World. His growing experience and eagerness to learn pushed him into the position of Lead Organizer for his local in 2005. Eric trained for this role in Toronto, working with UNITE HERE Local 75 on the citywide hotel contract fight. Clinton became President of Local 362 in April 2008.

Clinton also has been active in local politics, interfaith organizing, Labor in the Pulpit, civil disobedience and participated in the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride in 2003.

Krystle Cook

Krystle Cook is a nine-year flight attendant with Alaska Airlines and represents the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. She is the government affairs chair for her local and fights for flight attendant issues at the local and national levels. Her passions include traveling and outdoor activities such as hiking with her Labrador, ocean fishing, snowboarding, and enjoying the forests, mountains, and waterways of the Pacific Northwest.

Victoria Fisher

Fisher is a proud third generation union member and a committed member of CWA local 1037, where she serves on the human rights committee and women's caucus, and in 2013, co-founded local 1037's Next Generation caucus, which has since been involved in worksite actions to demand fair contracts, national rallies calling for immigration reform, protests against unfair labor practices, and numerous service projects.

Fisher is shop steward at New Jersey's Board of Public Utilities and in 2012, she and her co-stewards were awarded the Hetty Rosenstein Union Builder Award for their achievements in and out of the workplace. She earned a B.A. in political science from Rutgers' Douglass College and an M.P.A. from Rutgers' School of Public Affairs and Administration.  She is an active volunteer in her community and serves as chair of Teaneck's Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse.

Brianna Gregory

Gregory is the transportation department educator for the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) and has worked on multiple national organizing campaigns. 
After initiating into IAM Local 2202 at Alaska Airlines in 2004, Gregory served as chief steward, covering Seattle to Juneau, Alaska. She developed the local’s social media strategy and served on the Women’s, Bylaws, Legislative and Organizing Committees.

Michael Jackson

Jackson is an electrician with the IBEW Local 716 in Houston and is the chair of Houston YALL (Young Active Labor Leaders). He is a 2014-2015 YP4 (Young People For) fellow.

Courtney Jenkins

Jenkins is a mail processing clerk with the United States Postal Service and a member of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 181 in Baltimore, where he became the youngest elected officer to its executive board. He currently serves as recording secretary and editor, shop steward, and union delegate. He credits his grandfather and great uncle, equal employment opportunity officers during the Civil Rights era, in instilling the ideals of equality in the workplace. He is a passionate about grassroots campaigning.

Paul Kent

Kent is a stagehand and member of Theatrical Stage Employees local 22 in Washington, D.C.

Dave Levine

Levine, of Pittsburgh, works for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and is the president of AFSCME Local 2577. He has been involved with AFSCME's Next Wave program since 2009 and is co-chair of both the PA Council 13 and AFSCME International Next Wave Committees.

He enjoys public speaking and has given several speeches and presentations on Next Wave and young worker programs to various groups including the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Community Services Institute and the YOUNG AFGE summit.

Levine is also a Local Union Training Instructor, having administered officer, steward, and financial standards training to hundreds of members since 2010; and a Volunteer Member Organizer, having knocked on doors in four different states over three organizing campaigns.

He is a member of CLUW and a student at the National Labor College.

Henry Lima

Lima is an organizer for UFCW Local 770 and currently works on the El Super campaign. A native of Hollywood, Calif., Lima is a 2015 UFCW Blue-Gold Intern and was voted by his internship class to be this year’s UFCW Young Worker Advisory Committee Representative. It is a tremendous honor to work with other young leaders in the progressive labor movement and represent young workers and activists in the fight for justice, equality and respect.

Ryan Mariategue

Mariategue is a program associate for Working America and serves as a national executive board member for the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and chairs their Young Leaders Council. He previously held positions as a shop steward for the Academic Professionals of California, and was an organizer for SEIU local 1021.

Shannon Meissner

Meissner serves as deputy director of governmental affairs for the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), where she has spearheaded efforts to increase funding for federal fire fighter grants, enhance fire fighter health and safety protections, and reform our nation’s emergency response system.  

Prior to joining the IAFF, Meissner served as a congressional aide to Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas) and as professional staff to the House Rules Committee. A Michigan native, she currently resides in Alexandria, Va.

Sarah Meyer

Meyer serves as the Director of International Affairs of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU/UFCW) where she coordinates global strategy, campaign and company work for her union.

Prior to becoming Director of International Affairs, she served in a number of roles at her union including Director of Research where she oversaw and conducted research used primarily for contract negotiations, organizing drives, and public-policy campaigns.

Meyer is a native of Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and Rutgers University where she received her Master’s Degree in Labor and Employment Relations. She also represents her union as a VP of Commerce and a VP of the Youth Committee, both within the UNI Americas region of UNI Global Union.

Fareed Michelen

Michelen is the special assistant to the Secretary-Treasurer for the New York State AFL-CIO. While receiving a B.A. in English and history form SUNY Binghamton, Michelen served as a volunteer organizer with HERE Local 421 on a couple campaigns. He went on to become an organizer with 1199SEIU where he worked on hospital, nursing home and dialysis center campaigns throughout New York and California.

Julio Perez

Perez is the executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation and serves of the board of directors of the Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD), the Orange County Workforce Investment Board, Vice Chair of the Labor Caucus for the California Democratic Party, is VP of the Young Workers of California and serves on the Strategic Planning Committee for both the California Labor Federation and the AFL-CIO. 

Previously, Perez worked for the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) as a policy analyst and for Strengthening our Lives, (SOL-PAC) as a political organizer running electoral field campaigns. He also held positions at OCCORD, United Healthcare Workers West, and UFCW Local 324.

Perez was a founding member of the Orange County Immigration Coalition, Los Amigos de Orange County, represented the 69th Assembly District as a delegate for the Democratic Party, worked as an adviser to Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations, and has served on the boards for the El Centro Cultural de Mexico, and the Institute for Mexicans Abroad.

He has an M.A. in public policy from the University of Michigan and holds a B.A. in sociology and international studies from UC-Irvine.

Chris Sloan

Sloan serves as the directory of government affairs for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT).

As government affairs director, he oversees IUPAT's political action, campaign and mobilization activities, as well as the IUPAT's state and federal lobbying efforts in the U.S. and Canada.

Prior to being named director of government affairs, he served IUPAT as their chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill and helped push a broad legislative agenda.

Sloan is a native of Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Earlham College and is scheduled to receive a Masters degree from George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management later this year.

Michael Sosa

Sosa is member of the International Longshoremen’s Association and is the first in his union to sit on the Young Workers Advisory Council. He attended Texas State University and was active in campus politics and involved with the university's chapter of Young Democrats. Sosa served in the United States Marine Corp serving in Iraq in 2005 with the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion. 

Paul Talboo

Talboo is the district representative of his Utility Workers local and serves as co-chairperson of the Utility Workers Young Workers Initiative Committee. He lives in Northfield, Ohio.

Rob Torkelson

Torkelson is the recording secretary of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers (GMP) local 63B in Minneapolis and the financial secretary of GMP's Midwest Conference Board. In 2008, he received a certificate from the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service Program, and through GMP, he participated in a summer school program through West Virginia University.

Torkelson currently lives in the suburbs of the Twin Cities.

Marcos Velez

Velez is a member of United Steelworkers local 13-227 in Pasadena, Texas. Velez, 27, works at Lyondell-Basell Houston Refining in operations. He is active in his local union where he helps organize new members and works on the grievers and bargaining committees, andthe USW Emergency Response Team that helps members and their families when a fellow member is injured or killed at work. Velez, bilingual in English and Spanish, also is chair of the local’s Next Generation committee, the Steelworkers young members program.

Caniesha Washington

Washington is a member of the Office & Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) and an executive board member of OPEIU Local 2, which represents over 6,000 professional employees in the Washington, D.C. area. She leads the Rising Stars "Step Up" young workers committee and the communications committee and is engaged in the social events and women's committees. She is a steward, has served on her shop's negotiating team and is an active executive board member of the D.C. Young Trade Unionists (DCYTU).

Washington works for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) in the Women's and Fair Practices Department. She is the young worker point person for the Y.O.U.N.G. AFGE program (Young Organizing Unionists for the Next Generation).

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