HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori J. Pelletier is stepping down from her post as head of the state’s largest labor federation and joining the private sector later this month.
Pelletier, who has been AFL-CIO president since 2013 will step down Nov. 30 to serve as vice president and executive director of the American Income/National Income Labor Advisory Board.
The first openly gay state federation leader in the country Pelletier is resigning her post after growing union membership 34 percent from 207,000 in 2013 to 278,000 as of 2017, according to federal data.
Sal Luciano, the current executive vice president and former executive director of Council 4 AFSCME, will serve as interim president until the executive board convenes a special meeting to elect a new president to finish Pelletier’s term.
Pelletier was re-elected as president in 2017 and her current term runs until 2021.
Prior to her election as president, Pelletier served as secretary-treasurer for 14 years and served as the organization’s chief legislative advocate. She started her career as a machinist at Pratt & Whitney.
Her priorities included efforts to raise the the minimum wage and she led efforts to stave off efforts to peel back certain collective bargaining rights, repeal of prevailing wage laws, and weakening of binding arbitration laws.
In 2015, Pelletier was elected to serve as the vice president representing state federations on the National AFL-CIO Executive Council.
The announcement comes at a time when unions, especially public sector unions, are facing new challenges due to a U.S. Supreme Court decision, which found that government unions can’t force non-members to pay “agency fees.”
About 34 percent of government workers across the nation are unionized, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In the private sector it’s about 6.5 percent.
Connecticut’s public sector unions will have to deal with a new legislature and governor, who will be responsible for closing a $4.6 billion deficit over the next two years.