Spotlighting New Jersey Leaders and Activists for Women's History Month

Our affiliates wanted to honor so many members for Women's History Month, and so we continue to bring you the stories of these amazing women throughout the month. Here are four women making history in New Jersey.

Joyce Alston, president of BCTGM Local 53:


As a groundbreaking leader in the labor movement for more than four decades, Joyce Alston has served as a local president for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 53 for over 20 years. Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, Alston started her career in 1977 as a rank-and-file member of BCTGM Local 50, which made Wonder Bread and Hostess products in East Brunswick. She was elected shop steward the following year and later became the first female shop chairperson elected to the office. Among her many roles and titles, Alston is the first woman to serve as president of the East Central Council for Regions One and Two for BCTGM and is a vice president of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO.

Donna Chiera, vice president of the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey:


In addition to being an incredible labor leader and educator, Donna Chiera is the president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) New Jersey, leading the 30,000-member education union federation. A lifelong teacher, she taught for more than 30 years in Perth Amboy Public Schools, in the same town where she grew up and attended school. She has represented the New Jersey AFT at the state and national levels in many capacities and continues to serve as vice president on the New Jersey State AFL-CIO executive board. 

Susan M. Cleary, president of District 1199J, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, AFSCME:


Susan M. Cleary is a groundbreaking labor leader who became AFSCME District 1199J’s first female president beginning in 2006. District 1199J is New Jersey’s original health care union and represents the health care and public employees who remain on the front line during the COVID-19 pandemic. She began her career in 1979 in the business office of St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City and helped organize her unit of 850 workers in 1981. 

Donna DeCaprio, financial secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 54:


Donna DeCaprio fights vigorously to give workers a voice, to raise UNITE HERE Local 54 members’ standard of living, and to demand dignity and respect in the workplace every day. DeCaprio's union membership began in 1989 when she became the first female bar porter at Tropicana casino in Atlantic City. She rose through the ranks to become shop steward at Resorts International casino and, in 1997, an organizer for Local 54. Since being elected financial secretary-treasurer of Local 54 in 2004, DeCaprio has negotiated more than 70 collective bargaining agreements and won over $1.3 million in settlements for members of the local. She also serves as international vice president of UNITE HERE.