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Labor leader Tyrek Lee in front of the Boston Medical Center

ULI Grad to Lead Largest Healthcare Union in Massachusetts

Last week, Tyrek D. Lee, Sr., a graduate of the Union Leadership Institute, was appointed to the top leadership post for 1199SEIU in Massachusetts. 

“We are thrilled at Tyrek’s appointment.  Becoming a top labor leader in Boston and New England representing 1199 SEIU is no surprise to those of us who have worked with him in recent years,” said Gene Carroll, Co-Director of the Union Leadership Institute.

Lee is the first African-American man to lead a major statewide union in Massachusetts. As Executive Vice President, Lee will also be in the leadership of 1199SEIU, largest union local in the country with more than 400,000 members across the East Coast. Starting off as a rank-and-file union member in 2003, Lee’s historic rise into labor leadership has been described by as “uncommonly swift” by the Boston Globe.

“I know firsthand what it feels like to work full time but still have to choose between paying rent and buying groceries,” said Lee. “I will work hard day and night to make sure we’re ending the practice of paying poverty wages in Massachusetts– in the healthcare industry and beyond.”

Carroll was immediately impressed with Lee’s leadership qualities when he joined the Union Leadership Institute, describing him as “strategically smart, caring and passionate advocate for union members.  He knows, instinctively, to listen and talk to his members and other workers, to learn from them.  This is a great leadership strength.”

Lee intends to use his new post to fight for more than just union members – he is also an impassioned advocate in the broader fight for racial and social justice. 

“There are often so many obstacles facing men and women in our communities – from racial and social challenges, to immigration and poverty – even as they fight to secure a living wage that can support their families,” said Lee. “As a leader of the largest healthcare union in Massachusetts, I’m looking forward to standing with the millions of people across the Commonwealth who are working hard to overcome these hurdles to make a better life for themselves and their families.”

Upon graduating, Lee has returned to the Union Leadership Institute as a trainer and mentor to other rising leaders in the labor movement.

“He is a labor leader interested in building a movement to support all workers,” said Carroll. “Given the major responsibilities he’s now got to shoulder it may be very difficult to pull him away for a day of teaching,”

To learn more about Lee, see this recent article in the Boston Globe.

The Union Leadership Institute is an intensive, one-year, executive-level training program for current leaders and top staff in New York’s unions and other worker-focused organizations who are already in significant positions of leadership. Since its launch in 2001, the Institute has graduated 375 leaders.


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