The new VT AFL-CIO UNITED! Leadership embraced the New Year by hiring its first female Executive Director, Liz Medina. The Executive Director is a ranking staff position tasked with carrying out the vision of the elected Executive Board. This is the first time a woman will have the honor of serving in the top staff position.
Medina says she is driven to fight for working families by her own working-class background. She believes Vermont is a promising place to lead that fight: “Vermont is a place filled with progressive thinkers and organizations that are trying to do something different and lead our country in a new direction in a time when working families are hurting and being left behind. However, as a labor leader, I’m interested in not just fighting for better wages in exchange for our exploitation but ending exploitation. It’s time for workers to be put in control of our work and lives. To that end, I’m excited to work with the UNITED! slate, our members, and all working-class Vermonters to transform our labor institutions and rebuild working-class power.”
Previously, Medina served as a union officer within UAW Local 2322 at Goddard College. As a Goddard employee, she earned her MFA. For her thesis project, Medina collected oral histories of workers in Barre, combined those with oral histories from the Federal Writers’ Project, and then had workers narrate and respond to them. Of the project, Medina commented, “There are so many aspects of working-class life, past and present, that can’t be neatly packaged in campaigns and popular media. This project gave me space to cultivate deeper relationships with labor leaders, including ones that I now work with.” This project culminated into a podcast called En Masse. Her show has been picked up by The Labor Radio Podcast Network.
While working and serving in her local union, she also volunteered with various labor organizations. She joined the Vermont Workers’ Center in 2014, and she served on the VT AFL-CIO Executive Board – first in 2015, then in 2019 as part of the UNITED! slate. Asked why she decided to run with this slate, Medina stated, “The UNITED! slate’s program incorporates strategies from labor’s more radical past and addresses the challenges ahead of us. At heart, it’s about restoring democracy to our organizations and workplaces.”
The United! caucus, through elections in 2019 and 2020, now controls all 11 leadership positions within the Vermont AFL-CIO and is generally regarded as the most progressive State Labor Council leadership team in the country.
Medina was hired by the union’s Executive Committee composed of President David Van Deusen, Executive Vice President Tristin Adie, and Secretary-Treasurer Danielle Bombardier. Commenting on the hire, Danielle Bombardier added, “The Board is thrilled Liz has accepted the position of Executive Director. Liz’s belief in the value and dignity of people and the process of democracy is evident. Her experience, skills, and energy will help accomplish the objectives and principles of the Labor Council and her determination and true enthusiasm for the labor movement will improve the lives of working Vermonters now and into the future.”