Age: 32 | Position: Chief of Staff and Mobilizing Director, Central Labor Council
The expression “it takes one to know one” certainly applies to Brendan Griffith’s job history in organized labor. Before accepting a prominent position in the administration of New York City’s broad coalition of organized labor, the Central Labor Council, Griffith got firsthand experience as a union member himself, parlaying a college internship with the AFL-CIO into a post-undergrad apprenticeship with the Local 40 Ironworkers union. While he says he would have been content forging a career as an ironworker, he could not turn down an opportunity to work for the CLC—despite the awkward transition at first.
“To go from being a rank-and-file union member and construction worker to working for an organization that is certainly more political in nature was challenging,” Griffith said. “But as a rank-and-file union member, you also have an opportunity to be a part of the labor movement—you are a part of the labor movement—and working for the Central Labor Council I’m working for the labor movement. It’s different roles but part of the same group.”
No two days are the same for Griffith at the CLC. With 300 affiliated labor organizations and over 1 million members total, he is tasked with wearing multiple hats, dealing with the varied and nuanced interests of the different unions in both the private and public sector.
“You could be talking to the Building Trades unions about an issue they’re having one day, and then the next day be talking to public sector workers. There’s a wide variety of worker organizations in New York City, and we work with all of them.”
If you weren’t working in politics or government, what would you be doing? “I’d be an ironworker and having a lot of fun.”
What is your favorite place in New York City? “Central Park.”