Sacramento working families celebrate Labor Day with activism and community

By Sheri Williams

Thousands of union members and supporters came together to celebrate Labor Day on September 4 with a full day of protests, activism, education and fun.

For the first time, the Sacramento Central Labor Council expanded beyond its annual picnic and began the day with a Fight for $15 rally in West Sacramento.

That action drew hundreds of people from a variety of related organizations, highlighting a strong commitment from Sacramento Labor to build dialogue and community with social justice causes throughout the region.

“It was that whole idea of coming together around the issues,” said Margarita Maldonado, president of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, at a recent delegates meeting. “It was really an emotional day to see so many organizations come together because that is what Labor Day is really about.”

Like many in the Labor Community, Maldonado began her day preparing a meal for homeless people at downtown shelter Loaves & Fishes. She then helped shut down the West Sacramento McDonald’s in a wage action before marching across the Tower Bridge to a rally at Crocker Park, stopping along the way to unleash a banner from the deck of the bridge.

The day ended with a new venue for the annual picnic: Fairytale Town. There, hundreds of union families, supporters and politicians came together to celebrate the accomplishments and solidarity of the local Labor community.

“This is our moment to thank all the wonderful hardworking men and women of the capitol region who make Sacramento great,” said Fabrizio Sasso, executive director of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, welcoming the crowd. “On Labor Day, we recognize and honor the achievements of America’s working people and it’s time that we commit ourselves to build upon these achievements. … Today’s celebration comes at a critical time for the Labor Movement. Collective action is on the rise in this country but working people are under attack by the rich and the powerful and they’ve made their objectives clear: more for them, less for you. They are attacking our wages, they are attacking our healthcare. They’re taking the whole pie for themselves while leaving the rest of us to attack each other over the crumbs. These are attacks to freedom.”

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty was one of the many politicians who attended the event, and also spoke to the crowd.

“I want to thank everyone here today for stepping up to make sure California is this island of progressive policies, not just this year but for the past decades,” he said. “We’ve been on the front lines across California and here in Sacramento.”

McCarty also asked the crowd to be more politically active in the coming elections.

“I ask all of you to step up your game,” he said. “This year, there is no election like this past one. … We know what’s at stake.”

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones also spoke, echoing McCarty’s message of the need for action, and adding a ray of hope.

“I wish I could report to you that this fight is getting any easier,” said Jones. “We have a man in the Oval Office who can’t bring himself to call a Nazi a Nazi and who thinks that hardworking men and women don’t deserve a union … but we also know that we can beat him and we just saw this about a month or so ago when he tried to wreck health care reform in the United States of America. … He is beatable. And like any bully, when you stand up to him and unite collectively, we can beat him and we can take him out.”

State Controller Betty Yee was the last to speak.

“All I want to just say to all of you, especially those who brought their families out, we are a part of making history, every single day,” Yee said. “And the work that we do going forward … The triumphs that we’ve seen for this Labor Movement, the protections they’ve won for all workers, really is embedded in the history of America … We will not be divided.”

The SCLC’s Tamie Dramer and Teresa Villasenor arranged the Fairytale Town event.

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