Fil-Am Darlene Lombos, first woman and person of color to lead labor council

by Ricky Rillera

BOSTON, MA – Filipino-American Darlene Lombos, 45, the former executive director and the Greater Boston Labor Council’s (GBLC) former vice president, was sworn-in January 19 as the executive secretary-treasurer of the council, its highest-ranking position. GBLC represents 160 unions in every industry sector — construction, hospitality, transportation, health care, education and more — around the region.

“I am honored to have been elected for this important leadership role in the Labor Movement,” said Lombos. “I am determined to make sure that anyone who wants to be part of a union, can be part of a union. Corporate greed threatens not just our livelihoods and our planet, but even our democratic institutions.”

Lombos, a daughter of Filipino immigrants, added: “Unions have always had a unique role to play in challenging this imbalance of power, in leveling the playing field, and especially in this political moment, leading with our values.”

This is the first time in its  62-year history, the Greater Boston Labor Council has elected a woman, and a person of color, as its leader. 

She succeeds Rich Rogers, 64, who is retiring after more than 30 years in the labor movement including 16 at the helm of the labor council. Rogers will be honored at a special event in Dorchester on March 5.

“Darlene Lombos has put in the hard work to gain the respect of labor, community and responsible businesses throughout Boston,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I look forward to her leadership and working closely with her to make sure Boston remains a welcoming city for everyone to live, work and thrive.”

Steve Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, sworn-in Lombos. “Darlene Lombos has the commitment, energy, and vision that the Labor Movement needs right now,” Tolman said. “She understands the complex issues facing workers and how these issues affect our communities. Darlene’s extensive organizing experience will foster partnerships that will take organized labor in Greater Boston to the next level.”  He thanked Rogers for his stewardship of the GBLC for many years, and for his foresight in mentoring the next generation of labor leaders, including Lombos.

Lombos has set forth an initial agenda that includes:
-Increased outreach and resources for workers who are not yet in unions, since interest in joining unions remain strong in almost every sector
– strong focus on corporate accountability by challenging companies who exploit workers and ensuring they pay their fair share to protect and strengthen public services
-The election of public officials who believe in pay equity, a voice at work, the right to organize, and the value of union apprenticeship programs and career pathways
-The creation of additional, strong leadership programs for women and people of color within organized labor, public office, and in key industries across Greater Boston
Reverend Mariama While-Hammond, Pastor of New Roots AME Church in Boston, also praised Lombos. He believes that she can build bridges across sectors and help people lean into their shared values.

“While the national scene is full of division, we know that the struggle for fairness and justice is not just about one of us, but all of us. We are starved for leaders who can bring us together in more collaborative ways. Darlene is that kind of person,” he said.

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