About Us

Jeffrey Natke, Labor Relations Attorney & General Manager. Jeff received his B.A. in History from Alma College and his law degree, Magna Cum Laude, from Michigan State University.  In law school, Jeff earned Achievement Awards for both Labor Arbitration and Sports Law, and served as Editor on the Michigan State Law Review. He was an intern with the U.S. Army JAG Corps, and an extern for a Michigan Supreme Court Justice.  Jeff later practiced labor and employment law in Las Vegas, prior to moving to California, where he has been representing public sector labor unions since 2009.


Mary LaPlante, Managing Labor Representative, Mary worked for 16 years in public agencies in California, including several years as a Manager in the County of San Bernardino.  She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of La Verne with a B.S. degree in Public Administration and has over 34 years of experience as a Labor Relations Representative on the “union side.”  Mary’s special area of expertise is contract negotiations.  She has served as chief negotiator in dozens of cities and special districts and has proven experience in representing members in grievances, PERB hearings, and disciplinary appeals.

Vicky Barker, Managing Labor Relations Attorney, Vicky received her B.A. in Political Science, Magna Cum Laude, from UC San Diego and her law degree from the University of California, Davis. In law school, she was an Editor on the U.C. Davis Law Review. Vicky has been representing public employees for more than 29 years and specializes in contract negotiations, disciplinary hearings and has arbitrated over 100 association grievances. Named one of the top women litigators by California’s legal newspaper, Vicky has dedicated her career to pursuing justice for workers and their families.


Laura Holtan, Labor Relations Attorney, Laura received her B.A. in Liberal Arts from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and her law degree from UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, with a concentration in Social Justice Lawyering. In law school, she participated in the Workers’ Rights Clinic and Mediation Clinic, and volunteered with Bay Area Legal Aid’s Consumer Law Unit. After law school, she worked as a city employee for several years as a policy and legislative staffer for Oakland City Council and as a legal fellow for the Palo Alto City Attorney’s Office. Laura is dedicated to using her public sector and legal background to advocate on behalf of city employees and their labor organizations.

Victoria Lynn DeFrank, Labor Representative, JD, Her interest in labor relations began with her election to President of a local union of Highway Clerical Employees in Pittsburgh.  Victoria graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in Political Science.  She returned to her alma mater to receive her law degree in 1989.  Victoria is licensed in Pennsylvania and the Supreme Court of the United States.  Victoria has worked as a union representative for about 25 years.  This work included organizing public employees for AFSCME and as the Director of Organizing for an association of independent unions that represented telephone employees.  Prior to joining CEA Victoria represented public employees for Connecticut Council 4, AFSCME.  Her work focused on chairing contract negotiations, contract and interest arbitration and assisting local officers in labor/management forums. Victoria has also taught classes on leadership development, grievance presentation and organizing.

Alexandra Crivello, Labor Relations Attorney, Alexandra graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Creative Writing as well as a degree in Communications from USC’s esteemed Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism. Go Trojans! Alexandra earned her law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law, also receiving an Intellectual Property Law Certificate, and interning with Geragos & Geragos in Los Angeles, CA, providing her with a background in both civil and criminal defense. Alexandra has practiced in class action litigation in consumer law and fraudulent advertising, contract negotiations, workplace discrimination and harassment disputes, and more. Alexandra is devoted to the advocacy and preservation of workers’ rights!

Alex Scott, Labor Relations Attorney, Alex received his B.A. in Political Science from UC Davis, and his law degree from UCLA. At law school, Alex earned a J.D. specialization in Critical Race Studies, and gained experience in labor law as a Peggy Browning Fellow with AFSCME District Council 36, and as a law clerk for the California Teachers Association. In addition, he was a founding board member of the student-run Labor and Employment Law Association, and a board member for the UCLA chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.  After law school, Alex undertook a one-year fellowship with the UCLA Labor Center, where he worked closely with Rideshare Drivers United and the Taxi Workers Association of Los Angeles and advocated for pro-driver local and state policy. He has also worked in civil litigation as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, where he defended tenants in unlawful detainer proceedings.

James Fagen, Labor Relations Attorney, James received his B.A. in Political Science from UC Santa Barbara, and his law degree from Southwestern Law School.  He was the recipient of the CALI Award for Excellence in Media Law among his other achievements in law school.  James has been a featured panelist at numerous conferences, and has been practicing labor for nearly a decade.



Jessica Lara, Labor Relations Attorney, Jessica received her B.A. in Philosophy from UC Riverside and her law degree from American University in Washington D.C. In law school, she participated in the Community and Economic Development Clinic promoting equitable economic development by assisting small businesses, workers’ cooperatives and nonprofit organizations local to the DMV area. Prior to joining CEA, Jessica gained experience in labor relations and advocated on behalf of members while working as a staff attorney for a large labor union in the private sector/construction industry.


Joscelynn Gadzinski, Labor Relations Attorney, Joscelynn received her B.A. in history and English from UC Irvine and her law degree from Whittier Law School, with a concentration in Business Law. She developed her interest in labor relations while working as a wastewater treatment plant operator for a special district. Her experience as a union steward inspired her to go to law school, so that she could better serve and advocate for others.



Kara Natke, Office Manager. Kara received her BS in Psychology and minor in Counseling from SFSU, where she graduated on the Dean’s list, participated in the J-Board, interned as a Student Peer Counselor. At the Institute on Aging, Kara helped developed seminars on Cultural Differences and developed/ran programs for incoming students. Kara has worked in management positions for the past 20 years for companies including Nordstrom and Coca-Cola. Kara handles all of the back office day-to-day tasks.