By Sheri Williams
The Sacramento Central Labor Council held its first public Labor 101 Academy in late July to help candidates in the upcoming 2018 election understand the values and goals of Organized Labor and ensure that those endorsed by the Council understand its priorities.
This was also the first year the Council opened the Academy to the general public.
“We recognized that there was a demand that people wanted to learn a little bit more about Labor in general,” said Fabrizio Sasso, executive director of the Council. “Any time that we can teach everyday folks who are active in the community a little bit more about Labor and who we are, what we represent and the things that we are fighting for, it helps us broaden our appeal to the general public in a way that we don’t normally engage them.”
The Academy drew more than 70 people, including both incumbent elected officials and those running for office.
Sacramento City Councilman Jay Schenirer said that he came because he values his relationship with Labor. It was his first time attending the event.
“I think an understanding of the history of the Labor movement and the current context of what’s going on in the moment is important,” Schenirer said. “We are not always going to agree on everything as everyone moves forward, but understanding each other and where we are and the fact that I think we all have the same goals is important: high paying jobs for folks that live in our area, security, pensions.”
Sasso said the event was equally important to help new political hopefuls build an understanding and relationship with Labor.
“There is an incredibly exciting new field of contenders that are rising up from their communities in the face of the new presidential administration. They have passion and commitment, and this helps us build a foundation and ties that helps them understand our history of fighting for workers’ rights and civil rights – the very causes that have inspired them to seek office,” Sasso said.
At the all-day event, people learned about project labor agreements from Sacramento-Sierra Building and Construction Trades leader Kevin Ferreira.
On the education front, Jeff Freitas of California Teachers Association spoke about the dangers of school privatization and the for-profit system of charters schools that is eviscerating public education.
Other topics covered included the attack on workers’ rights through so-called right to work legislation and the importance of pensions for maintaining fair and dignified retirements.
“Events like this are important because it helps the community understand Labor issues and why they are important in different sectors of Labor and how we try to enhance the betterment of working people. This event is a terrific success in building ties with the next generation of leadership,” said Ferreira.
Karl Pineo of the Iron Workers also presented about the Building Trades, speaking about workforce development and apprenticeship programs and how they create a pathway to the middle class.
“It’s important to educate the public and people who are running for office who don’t necessarily know that much about what it is the Building Trades does,” Pineo said. “Most people have a preconceived notion of who we are and what we do, and from past experience many leave with a better understanding of what that is.”
The Sacramento Central Labor Council will require the Academy for all future candidates before offering an endorsement because it believes that a healthy and sustainable economy is built by creating good jobs and effective government policy.
Good government earns the trust of the people, champions the common good over narrow self-interest, and harnesses the strength of our diversity. The Sacramento Central Labor Council works with our community allies and elected officials to develop new economic development agenda that shapes the regional debate around public policy that affects our affiliate unions, their members, and the region’s workforce.