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From father to son: Legacy of labor carries in Connecticut union family

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From father to son: Legacy of labor carries in Connecticut union family
By Amy O'Connor, AFSCME Council 4 ·
Tags: Our Stories
From father to son: Legacy of labor carries in Connecticut union family
Wilfredo, left, and Fred Medina. Photo by AFSCME Council 4.

Wilfredo Medina Sr. started his career as a special police officer (SPO) in Hartford, Connecticut, schools 35 years ago. He didn’t know what a labor union was, but he had an inspirational president. He encouraged young SPOs to not just sign membership cards but to show up for meetings at the Hartford Federation of Special Police Officers, AFT Local 1018-D, and be active. 

Wilfredo was a single dad who at the time was working two jobs to support his children. Despite his family responsibilities, he quickly understood the power of the union and how standing together in solidarity assures working peoples’ safety and protects their jobs. 

He and his fellow union members fought for safer workplaces for all school staff. When city officials attempted to privatize the public-school district’s security services, they stood strong and beat back the scheme, maintaining their good, middle-class jobs and the services their students and colleagues depended on. 

Wilfredo, who recently retired, was not only a union leader on the job; he raised his children to understand the importance of labor values. He instilled in his children the benefits of a union when, as adults, their own economic security and workplace safety would be essential. 

Wilfredo’s son, Fred Medina, still remembers his dad’s great advice. He recalled how, speaking at Board of Education meetings, his father would stand up for colleagues and students alike. 

Through his aunt, another labor activist and a member of AFSCME Local 714 (Council 4), Fred got to know the union’s leaders and members personally. They helped encourage him 15 years ago to seek a career in the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) where he chose “Union YES” and joined Local 714 himself. 

After a year, Fred followed in his father’s footsteps and stepped up to serve as a union steward. He eventually ran for election to the Local 714 executive board, where he served for many years. He was then elected president of Local 714 in 2022 and reelected this year.  

To Fred, being in a union is all about the word “unite.”  

“If members stay united, they have the power together to ensure fair pay, benefits and respect in the workplace,” he said.  

When a retirement wave hit the state workforce and Local 714 last year, Fred recognized there’s a new generation of members in need of mentoring, inspiration and development as leaders.  

“We need to find new ways to fire up the unionists of the future,” he said. 

 Fred educates his two daughters, aged 20 years old and 9 years old, about the importance of having a union in their future workplaces. He has already started bringing his younger daughter to union events and has shared with her what being a labor leader is all about. 

 From a father to his children and to future generations, the legacy of labor carries on. 

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