Arlene Holt Baker is the Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO. She is the first African American to be elected to one of the federation’s three highest offices and the highest-ranking African American woman in the union movement. In her position, Holt Baker builds on her legacy of inspiring activism and reaching out to diverse communities to support the needs and aspirations of working people. She has experience as a union and grassroots organizer which spans more than 30 years.
Holt Baker began her work in the union movement with AFSCME. She moved through the AFSCME ranks as an organizer, union representative and area director—helping public-sector workers in California form a union and win contracts that provided better wages and pay equity for women. She has served on California’s Comparable Worth Task Force Committee and served as first vice chair of the California Democratic Party. She has received numerous civic awards for her work as a labor and community advocate.
Holt Baker came to the AFL-CIO as executive assistant to Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson in 1995. Since coming to the AFL-CIO, the federation has turned to Holt Baker to lead huge challenges and campaign initiatives, such as the 1998 Paycheck Deception in California, the AFL-CIO Florida recount, the AFL-CIO Voice@Work campaign and, most recently, the AFL-CIO Gulf Coast Recovery effort.
In 2004, Holt Baker was the president of Voices for Working Families, a nonpartisan voter participation organization dedicated to registering, educating, mobilizing and protecting the votes of communities of color and women.