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Who’s Next, Labor: 13 union leaders and workers’ advocates changing Philadelphia

Unions have long wielded significant power in Philadelphia, from lobbying for workers’ rights to getting out the vote in political elections. But that doesn’t mean they’re all run by members of the old guard.

Young people play huge roles in how labor groups and unions organize here in Philadelphia. There are people like Danny Bauder, a campaign manager with the AFL-CIO whose work in the last mayoral election was instrumental in Jim Kenney’s success in the Democratic primary. People like Yaasiyn Muhammad, a high school teacher who, along with some of his colleagues, is looking to shake up how the large teachers’ union is run here. And there are leaders like Kate Goodman, who are fighting every day for a higher minimum wage for low-income workers.

Billy Penn is recognizing these people and some of their peers as outstanding young labor leaders in this month’s version of Who’s Next. They’re the next generation of union and labor leaders representing Philadelphia. We do plan to continue featuring some of the city’s most dynamic young people, and your feedback is essential — please reach out to contact@billypenn.com with “Who’s Next” in the subject line to suggest other topics or nominations you’d like us to consider.

Here’s Who’s Next in Philadelphia’s labor and union scene, in alphabetical order:

amelia

1. Amelia Abromaitis

Title: Communications Director, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania

Age: 35

Who’s Next because: Abromaitis is the communications director of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the state’s largest and fastest growing healthcare union representing 25,000 nurses and hospital workers, nursing home employees and home care attendants. Since 2008, she’s worked on a number of local, statewide and national campaigns focused on increasing healthcare access, including ending mandatory overtime for healthcare workers, passing and fully implementing the Affordable Care Act, preventing the shutdown of half the state’s public health centers and the fight for a $15 minimum wage. Abromaitis worked previously at Riverbend Environmental Education Center, where she helped create a pilot program offering low-income Philadelphia youth access to hands-on science education. Find her on Twitter at @AAbromaitis.

danny bauder

2. Danny Bauder

Title: Campaign Manager Philadelphia AFL-CIO

Age: 33

Who’s Next because: Bauder is the campaign manager of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO. A former officer of AFSCME LU 676, Bauder is now responsible for the council’s political, legislative and community engagement campaigns. The person who nominated Bauder characterized him as “the most dedicated labor leader I have ever met,” and said his efforts were instrumental in former councilman Jim Kenney winning the Democratic primary for mayor, adding “Danny was a pertinent component of labor’s ground game, which got out the vote.” In addition to his work at the Council, he serves on the board of the Sons of Ben, a 501c3 philanthropic organization that is the official supporters group of the Philadelphia Union. Find him on Twitter at @dannybauder.

james gilbert

3. James Gilbert

Title: Staff Representative, CWA Local 1036

Age: 38

Who’s Next because: In his capacity with CWA Local 1036, Gilbert works on mobilizing membership to build the capacity necessary to win at the bargaining table and at the ballot box. Prior to coming Philadelphia, Gilbert was in Washington D.C., where for the last five years he was the director of the National AFL-CIO’s Union Veterans Council. In that capacity, he was the program manager and public spokesperson on behalf of the more than 2.5 million U.S. veterans and their families who are members of unions. Gilbert represented the AFL-CIO’s interests to Congress and government agencies while serving as a legislative advocate for programs such as Helmets to Hardhats and Troops to Teachers. Find him on Twitter at @JGilbertPHL.

goodman

4. Kate Goodman

Title: Organizer at 15 Now Philly

Age: 29

Who’s Next because: Goodman has been a union and community organizer for over six years in Phoenix, Ariz., Camden, N.J. and Philadelphia. She has organized worker and community-led committees to confront abandoned properties, immigration rights and full funding for public education. She recently became a member of Socialist Alternative, and is an organizer for the nationwide coalition campaign “15 Now,” which seeks to build electoral and grassroots support for raising the minimum wage. Locally, 15 Now Philly is fighting for a $15 minimum wage for all Temple University and Comcast employees and pushing City Council to institute a $15 minimum wage for all workers. Find her on Twitter at @kateagoodman.

kossoff

5. Reesa Kossoff

Title: Executive Director, SEIU Pennsylvania State Council

Age: 30

Who’s Next because: Currently the executive director of the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, Kossoff is one of Pennsylvania’s leading advocates for working families. A native to Bucks County, Kossoff worked on a range of electoral and issue campaigns in Indiana, Ohio and Washington State before landing back here in mid-2013. These days, you can usually find her in Harrisburg fighting for a state budget she says will “get the state back on track and championing the right of workers to form a union and negotiate for better pay and benefits.” Find her on Twitter at @reesakossoff.

ali kronley

6. Ali Kronley

Title: Director of the United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania (UHWP), a joint project of SEIU Healthcare PA and AFSCME

Age: 38

Who’s Next because: At SEIU Healthcare PA, Kronley played a key role in the successful campaign to win Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania by organizing health care workers, including uninsured home care attendants, to lobby for coverage for all Pennsylvanians. Currently, as the director of UHWP, she is organizing to lift attendants out of poverty and to make sure they have a voice in the long-term care system. Kronley also spent 10 years as a community organizer in low and moderate income neighborhoods, where her work contributed to the creation of Philadelphia’s anti-foreclosure program and a statewide school funding formula.

McCrone

7. Brian X. McCrone

Title: Writer and editor at Philly.com

Age: 35

Who’s Next because: Late last year, McCrone became a Philly.com representative on the board of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, the largest union at Philadelphia Media Network. Bargaining was underway for a new contract and McCrone played a key role in those. Months of negotiations ended this summer with a new, two-year contract, and Philly.com getting nearly all the protections and benefits that the print newsrooms of the Daily News and Inquirer were afforded — as well as the digital newsroom’s first-ever wage scale and seniority protection clause. He’s been a part of some large online projects since arriving at Philly.com in 2012, including a series on the City of Philadelphia’s bloated overtime use, a look at Atlantic City’s “No Man’s Land,” and the ongoing Next Mayor project. Find him on Twitter at @BrianXMcCrone.

mcrory

8. Marisa MacCrory

Title: Secretary-Treasurer of CWA Local 13000

Age: 35

Who’s Next because: In December 2014, MacCrory was elected secretary-treasurer of the Communication Workers of America Local 13000. CWA Local 13000 represents workers in telecommunications, information technology and health care throughout Pennsylvania. She serves as the Moderator of the Local’s Women’s Committee and is also a member of Philadelphia CLUW, and their Young Women’s Committee. In addition, MacCrory is a former fellow of the Center of Progressive Leadership. Find her on Twitter at @marisamac234.

muhammad

9. Yaasiyn Muhammad

Title: Social Studies teacher at Central High School

Age: 29

Who’s Next because: A social studies teacher at Central High School here in Philly, Muhammad is also a leader in the Caucus of Working Educators, a sub-division of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers founded last year that has grown to some 300 members. Muhammad is one of four officer candidates running for leadership in the PFT as the Caucus looks to shake up how the union is run. Some of the focuses of the Caucus include more transparency in decision-making, defending publicly-funded education and racial and income inequities among quality of education for students in Philadelphia. Find him on Twitter at @MuhammadTeach.

rosso

10. Eric Rosso

Title: Deputy State Director for Pennsylvania Working Families

Age: 28

Who’s Next because: Rosso is the Deputy State Director for Pennsylvania Working Families and has been with the organization since January, starting as their Political Director. In this position, he designed a successful political program for the 2015 municipal elections in Philadelphia. Before joining the Working Families Party, Rosso was the Political Liaison at SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH where he was responsible for implementing political strategy across the tri-state region, engaging members in political activism and serving as a point of contact for elected officials. During the 2012 and 2014 election cycles, he served as the Field Director for SEIU’s general public program managing the largest Independent Expenditure program in Ohio for the 2012 election. Find him on Twitter at @ericopinion.

gs

11. Gwen Snyder

Title: Executive director of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice

Age: 30

Who’s Next because: For the last six years, Snyder has worked with Philadelphia Jobs with Justice, a coalition of labor unions and student, community and faith groups who come together to fight for the rights of working people. Since JwJ was founded in 1999, the group has won local and national campaigns surrounding fair treatment of workers from major companies like Verizon, Comcast, Walmart, and Sunoco. The group has also worked on national, state and city levels as members of the National Jobs with Justice network to fight for immigrants’ rights, single-payer healthcare and workers’ rights to organize. The group was also widely involved in and served as a sponsor for the Occupy Philly movement. In addition to leading JwJ, Snyder also serves as a committeewoman in the 27th Ward. Find her on Twitter at @gwensnyderPHL.

spivey

12. Marcus Spivey

Title: Labor relations consultant/ organizer with District 1199C, National Union for Hospital & Health Care Employees, AFSCME

Age: 32

Who’s Next because: Spivey, who now serves as a political consultant and liaison with his union, joined the ranks of the labor movement in 2013 under the guidance of Henry Nicholas, the president of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees District 1199C. Since then, he’s led various teams in organizing new and existing members to lobby and rally around issues facing working families, including paid sick leave, increases in minimum wage and establishing work rules and regulations that empowered employees to deliver quality services.

chris woods

13. Chris Woods

Title: Executive Vice President, District 1199C, National Union for Hospital & Health Care Employees, AFSCME, AFL-CIO

Age: 30

Who’s Next because: Woods currently serves as the executive vice president of the National Union for Hospital and Health Care Employees, District 1199C in Philadelphia. He started his career with the National Union for Hospital and Health Care Employees in September 2007 as a field organizer, and began moving up the ranks in July 2011 to be the Organizing Director for District 1199C. Just one month later he was appointed the executive vice president of the Hospital Division, and in April of 2013 he was elected by the members of District1199C as Executive Vice President of 1199C’s Hospital Division, as well. Woods is one of the youngest trustees to serve on the Philadelphia AFL-CIO board, and he also serves as a trustee to several of the Union’s Taft Harley Funds. In addition, Woods also currently serves as the co-chair to the Philadelphia Working Families and is a member of the executive board to Philadelphia Jobs with Justice.

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