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Young Workers Advisory Council

Young Workers Advisory Council

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.

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. With the push for public money going to charter and private schools, Melinda continues her focus on the unjust mandates that public schools must endure.

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.

Erica Clemmons

Clemmons is a clerk at Kroger in Columbus, Ohio, and a member of UFCW local 1059. An active member of the labor movement for the past five years, Clemmons completed the UFCW "GOLD" Internship Program and continues to be a passionate community activist.

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.

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.

Andrew Glauser

Since 2004, Glauser has been an active member of International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) local 14 in Buffalo, N.Y., where he has served on the executive board, acted as local trustee, and played a major role in forming WNY Next Up, a young worker group in Western New York, where he served as co-chair and president.  

Glauser comes from a labor family and recalls walking picket lines at a young age with his mother. He holds a B.A. in construction management from the SUNY Environment School of Science and Forestry.

Ryan Gurganious

Gurganious is the chair of the AFGE Young Organizing Unionists for the Next Generation (Y.O.U.N.G) and active in his community, currently serving as treasurer for the Lincoln (N.C.) County Boys and Girls Club. Gurganious served in the United States Marine Corps.

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. 

Angela Kasse

Kasse works for Southwest Airlines and is a member of Transport Workers (TWU) Local 555, where she has served as shop steward and on several committees. Kasse has interned in TWU's political department and organizing department and has served as release staff for TWU in its department of government affairs and as the international office's senior researcher.

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.

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.

Anthony Muniz

Muniz is the political action coordinator and chair of the California School Employees Association (CSEA) Young Workers Work Group, He works for the Riverside Community College District Norco College Upward Bound Program where he helps first generation and low-income high school students achieve their dream of going to college.

Muniz has a degree in public policy from the University of California.

Chelsea Nelson

Nelson is the business development director for IBEW Local 46 and serve on the boards of WA YELL and the Women’s Funding Alliance.

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.

Rick Pospichal

Pospichal is a customer service specialist and cashier at the Warrior Hub on Winona State University’s campus. He is a member of AFSCME Local 945 and served as a local union steward and e-board member, and as a representative on the AFSCME Council 5 executive board. He currently serves as the communications chair for AFSCME's Next Wave program in Minnesota and on the board of the Minnesota AFL-CIO.

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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