Dean Hubbard, a labor attorney with decades of experience in politics and the union movement, has become the PSC’s new executive director after a lengthy nationwide search.
Hubbard has worked at numerous labor law firms and unions like the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Amalgamated Transit Union. He was propelled into the movement in 1983 after he was fired from a SoHo restaurant job after he tried to form a union.
“That led to a decision to add law school to my organizer training, and to what has now become decades of experience as a union and social justice organizer, educator and advocate,” he said in a statement, noting that he has also taught at CUNY and other academic institutions.
A BIG JOB
The PSC faces a pandemic, austerity and a post-Janus environment. Hubbard brings to this challenge the skills he learned navigating the tumultuous times at TWU Local 100 after the 2005 transit strike.
“[The union was] still reeling from the loss of dues checkoff and financial penalties imposed under the Taylor Law at the urging of Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the successful 2005 transit strike,” Hubbard said about his hiring at that union. “With the support of the local’s leadership, I conceived and drove a strategy of building a Taylor Law reform campaign around a complaint to the International Labour Organization that the law’s ban on and penalties for strikes violated the ILO conventions that protect workers’ human right to freedom of association.”
He added, “I was also with the TWU national union in early 2011 when, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision deeming political spending by the wealthy a form of protected speech, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker unleashed his existential attack on public-sector unions. Ohio’s Governor John Kasich and many other newly Republican governors and legislatures quickly followed suit. Together with my colleagues Roger Toussaint and J.W. Johnson, I recognized the need for the union to develop a national mobilization strategy to defend public-sector unions, and conceived and co-led the union’s national ‘Workers’ Rights are Human Rights’ campaign.”
Hubbard continued, “The successes of the Workers’ Rights are Human Rights campaign included helping to drive the citizen’s referendum which overturned Kasich’s anti-union legislation in Ohio, and strong material, communications and organizing support for the [Occupy Wall Street] movement, not just in New York but around the country and the world. Those and other experiences helped forge in me the knowledge, strength and resilience the PSC’s executive director needs to support the union’s leadership in this difficult moment as we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, out of decades of racialized austerity and into a New Deal for CUNY.”
Hubbard has also worked as an independent consultant and as the director of the labor and economic justice program at the Sierra Club.
Hubbard’s appointment was approved by the union’s Delegate Assembly in January. He replaces Debbie Bell, who served as PSC executive director for two decades. She retired in June. He was one of 169 applicants for the position and was interviewed at least four times, meeting with principal officers, the entire Executive Council and PSC staff directors.
Hubbard said that he believed in democratic unionism and that he aims to build the “kind of collaboration it takes to run an effective, successful democratic union, and inspire people to emulate that example,” and that “while the executive director is accountable to establish a structure in which staff do their best work, there should be no kind of work the executive director is unwilling to do.”
Hubbard has a B.A. in theater and politics from Hampshire College and a law degree from Northeastern University.
“We worked really hard to find the best person, and we feel we have,” PSC President Barbara Bowen said. “He has a lovely way of working and I think he will be very good for our union.”