Ryan Stanton, a 33-year-old former Democratic political operative, has been named executive director of the Long Island Federation of Labor, succeeding Roger Clayman, who led the local organization for 17 years.
The federation speaks on behalf of the Island's more than 250,000 union members on labor issues, though not every union is an affiliate of the group.
Stanton has served as the organization’s political director since 2014. He previously worked in politics under various candidates and elected officials, including the offices of Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and former Rep. Steve Israel.
The change in leadership came after Clayman, 71, announced his intention to step down last year. The group's executive committee voted unanimously to appoint Stanton to the post, federation president John Durso said.
Stanton will report to Durso and the group's executive board.
The number of private-sector workers and government-sector workers who were in a union in New York fell by 71,000 to 1.66 million in 2020 from 2019, a 4% decline, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Clayman said that while union membership has been in decline, the movement stands to gain from rising worker discontent fanned by the pandemic.
"Workers found out that just because you did a good job under adverse circumstances doesn’t mean that you earned respect from your employer," he said. "It was clear to them where they stood in this whole relationship of employer versus employees in the world of work." Amid heightened workloads and dangerous conditions during the pandemic, Clayman said many workers, both union and nonunion, are more willing to voice their demands for higher wages, benefits, and safety standards.
Stanton said the role of unions goes beyond collective bargaining and the workplace.
Among some of his goals in the new post, Stanton said, he plans to focus on projects such as expanding sewer infrastructure in Suffolk County, ensuring that those projects benefit working communities and bring them jobs.
"We're living on the front lines of climate change. It's working people that have to get up and go to work, and they walk out their front door, and their driveways and streets are flooded," Stanton said.
Stanton, who grew up in Islip Terrace, graduated from Binghamton University in 2010 and later graduated from Cornell University's Union Leadership Institute in 2019. "As I was developing professionally, I realized the most effective way to deliver for working people was to be a part of the union movement," he said.
He currently lives in Sayville with his wife and their infant son.
Clayman said that upon stepping down as executive director, he will be working as a consultant for the labor group on the development of the new National Offshore Wind Training Center, along with the Nassau-Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council and Suffolk County Community College.
"I feel totally confident that Ryan will provide great leadership for this federation, will push the programs forward and will be a really good voice for our issues," said Clayman.
The federation is affiliated with over 160 AFL-CIO area unions. Representatives from 32 different unions and locals sit on its executive board.
Durso credited Clayman for the group’s success in launching its own educational programming for union members and his expansion of the group's number of affiliate unions even as rank-and-file membership eroded.
"There are thousands, thousands of people on Long Island whose lives are better today and tomorrow because of the work that Roger Clayman has done over the years," said Durso. "But this federation could not be in better hands than it is right now with Ryan Stanton as our new executive director and Imran Ansari as our political director."
Ansari, 30, a Farmingdale resident who graduated from Hofstra in 2013 with a degree in political science, replaced Stanton at Israel's office. Following his time there, he worked for county Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and as a Nassau regional representative for former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.