Contributed photo
Jody Barr (Contributed photo)

NEW BRITAIN, CT — The union that represents more state employees than any other in Connecticut overwhelmingly elected a new executive director following the retirement of Sal Luciano, who held the position for the past 17 years.

Council 4 AFSCME elected Jody Barr to represent more than 30,000 public service workers in Connecticut.

Barr, a member of AFSCME Local 2836 representing administrative faculty at the four state universities, received more than 25,000 votes to win the four-year term.

“I am grateful for the confidence and faith our members have shown me. We’ve got our work cut out for us because corporate and wealthy special interests are engaged in an all-out assault against our members and the services we provide,” Barr said. “But we’re not going anywhere. We are more committed than ever to stand up for the men and women who plow our streets, take care of our children, safeguard our prisons and communities, collect our trash, and help the unemployed.”

Luciano, who has been not been vocal about his retirement, was instrumental in advocating for human rights and worker protections beyond the labor movement. He was a leading voice in the debate for universal health care and he was an advocate for increasing the minimum wage. He was also one of the few who understood the problems faced by Connecticut when the state failed for decades to fund state employee pensions.

“It’s been a privilege to advocate for our members and stand up for our rights and freedoms,” Luciano said. “It’s also the right time for me to step away. Jody will bring new energy and a fresh voice to our cause. I can’t think of a better person to lead Council 4 in the struggle for fairness and justice in our workplaces.”

ctnewsjunkie file photo
Sal Luciano (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

Luciano, 61, spent 20 years as a state social worker specializing in the investigation of child abuse and neglect. He rose through the ranks of his AFSCME Local 2663 union to lead Council 4 during a time of increased tumult marked by severe budget pressures and a backlash against public sector union members.

“It’s been an honor to work with Sal,” Barr said. “He has been a friend and a mentor, not just to me but to countless union members, elected leaders and community activists who sought his guidance. Sal made our state a better place for all workers. I will do everything I can to build on his legacy.”

Barr, 43, has been an employee of the Connecticut State University system since 1997, including the last seven years at Eastern Connecticut State University in the Willimantic section of Windham, where he worked as a voice system analyst. He holds a bachelors of science in industrial technology, with a concentration in technology management, from Central Connecticut State University.

In 2013, Barr was elected to serve as president of SUOAF, which represents 800 non-teaching faculty in the state universities and Board of Regents. In 2017, he was appointed to complete the term of Clarke King as Council 4 President.