BARBARA J. THOMAS is a 55-year plus East Cleveland resident, a proud mother of five and a long time member of New Community Bible Fellowship. Thomas is a product of the Cleveland School system, having attended John Hay High School. Furthering her education she attended the George Meaney Institute of labor becoming a member of the International Foundation of Investments and Pension Benefits where she received numerous educational certificates. She was employed at MetroHealth Medical center under the Human Resources department for 33 years.
Thomas was active in her community serving as chair of the East Cleveland Charter Review Commission and was also a member on the East Cleveland Hope Committee where she was instrumental in obtaining monies for job training for the single mothers in the city. Also $50,000 set aside for Patterson Park, both under the Community Development Department.
In 1989, Thomas became the first African-American union woman in 25 years to be elected as a trustee on the OPERS (Ohio Public Employees Retirement System). She represented 107,000 county employees across the state of Ohio from all 88 counties. In her second year she was voted chairperson to the board of this over 68 billion-dollar fund. Thomas also served on the Ohio Deferred Compensation Board and was elected by her colleagues to Vice-Chair.
During her employment at MetroHealth she had been President of AFSCME Local 3360 for 17 years representing 2000 union and non-union employees. Thomas had been active on various boards including, the Cleveland Federation of Labor Scanning Committee for nine years, and AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Executive Board as regional Vice President for four years. In addition, she was also a member of the AFSCME International Health Advisory Board in Washington, D.C. In 1990, she was named delegate to the World Trade Union Congress and traveled abroad to Moscow, Russia.
In 2003, AFSCME’s international union honored Thomas with their highest award, the Star of Excellence. This award was received for her proactive advocacy in fighting for the rights of employees to preserve their pension and benefits. Thomas also negotiated the first 5-year apprentice program opening the doors for employees to become skilled tradesman and women. Also in the year 2003, as an endorsed union candidate and a “proven leader” Thomas was elected to a four-year term to the Office of Councilwoman in East Cleveland. This Ward 2 Coalition consists of Ward 2 residents only.
Her most recent involvement for the city was being appointed to the Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board by the County Executor. She served four years.
Councilor Thomas is now serving her fourth term in City Council.