The North Shore Labor Council, a coalition of 42 unions based in Lynn, has hired organizer Katie Cohen as executive director. She will take on increased duties representing the organization, directing volunteers and interns, and developing strategies for building a stronger labor movement in the area.
“Katie has served as council organizer for over two years, and has helped increase participation with new delegates and leaders,” Council President Jeff Crosby said. “She has also strengthened ties between unions and community groups that we work with, and built collaborations with the school department and the city of Lynn. She directed our work with several election campaigns, including recent state elections and our support for Mayor (Thomas M.) McGee last year. Her promotion to the new position will better position her to help lead us in the future.”
Beth Kontos of Salem, Labor Council Board member and president of American Federation of Teachers-Massachusetts, added, “The council is at a turning point and is transitioning leadership for continued growth. Ms. Cohen has already been working in a leadership role at NSLC and has a proven track record of connecting all stakeholders in our community. We look forward to supporting this work further as we grow the power of labor in Massachusetts.”
The council expects Cohen will provide continuity for the council as long-time leaders retire or take up new responsibilities and new activists take the reins of the labor movement in the area. Jeff Crosby, who has served as North Shore Labor Council president for 27 years, has announced that he will not run for re-election at the end of his current term in December of 2019.
Originally from West Virginia, Cohen was involved in electoral politics there and in the fight against “mountaintop removal” for strip-mining, which causes health and economic problems. She majored in music and sociology at Brown University. She sang professionally in New York City while working multiple jobs. “I had the experience of having my wages stolen on low-pay jobs, and this is part of what took me to the labor movement,” she said. She first began working at the Labor Council as a fellow with the Jewish Organizing Initiative & Network, and was hired full-time after the internship.