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North Shore AFL-CIO taps Leonard DiCosimo to serve as executive secretary

DiCosimo, a musicians labor leader, replaces Dan O'Malley, who was removed last month due to 'credit card and reimbursement practices.'
Credit: North Shore AFL-CIO

CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohio's largest labor union has a new leader.

Just weeks after removing Daniel J. O'Malley, the North Shore AFL-CIO has appointed Leonard DiCosimo as its new executive secretary. The North Shore AFL-CIO Federation of Labor represents 85,000 workers and 146 local labor unions in Cuyahoga, Lake, and Geauga counties. 

DiCosimo has been the head of the Cleveland Federation of Musicians, Local 4 AFM, since 2005. The longtime working musician has served on the faculties of Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music and Lakeland Community College, directing choral ensembles, music directing stage productions, and teaching various conducting classes. 

In addition, DiCosimo has performed as an associate artist for Cleveland Opera on Tour in the orchestra pits of Playhouse Square Foundation, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, and Cleveland Playhouse. He has supported a wide variety of talent ranging from Phyllis Diller to The Fat Boys.

DiCosimo says he is looking forward to addressing issues that affect all working families, including the August ballot question seeking to make it more difficult to amend the Ohio Constitution. “Voting NO on State Issue 1 is of paramount importance to all of us,” said DiCosimo in a statement. “Citizens in every community deserve the right to amend their constitution by a simple majority - not a 60% threshold. This is a blatant attempt to silence the voice of Ohioans by a Republican legislature that was elected under districts that the Ohio Supreme Court found illegal due to gerrymandering.”

Another focus for DiCosimo is Ohio Senate Bill 83, which would ban nearly all diversity training requirements at public colleges and universities in the state. Also, university staff and employees would be banned from striking. “What is best for students and their families is to treat teachers with the same respect and dignity that is traditionally afforded to union members. Prohibiting employees from striking during a negotiation and mandating what is taught to Ohio students in the name of free speech does not lead to an honest and inclusive democracy," he added. 

Among the local issues DiCosimo plans to tackle is promoting more Cleveland contractors and workers from construction projects in the city. 

Last month, the North Shore AFL-CIO stated that the decision to remove O'Malley was related to his "use of the federation's credit card and reimbursement practices."

The AFL-CIO's executive board met on April 12 for a "due process hearing" on charges that were made against O'Malley. The board says after a day-long hearing and nearly four hours of deliberation, it found O'Malley guilty of four of the six charges and voted to remove him from office "effective immediately."

"This was a very difficult decision on the part of our Board, but after deep review and discussion we determined that our duty to our members required this action,” said AFL-CIO Board Chair and Cleveland Teachers Union President Shari Obrenski.

In an email to 3News, O'Malley's attorney, A. Steven Dever, says his client received "unfair treatment" and his removal was motivated by "personal agendas."

O'Malley had been the North Shore AFL-CIO's executive secretary since January of 2021. He previously served as the federation's campaign director for five years. In addition, O'Malley is on the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. He resigned as Lakewood City Council president in 2022 to take a seat on the port board. 

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