By Sheri Williams
The Sacramento Central Labor Council brought together the region’s union women and men with friends of labor in October for the 18th Annual Salute to Labor Awards Banquet.
The event comes a month before the Sacramento Central Labor Council celebrates its 130th anniversary.
Speaking before a crowd of hundreds of union members, Congressman John Garamendi spoke about the challenges facing working families across America, but also of the hope he saw in the power of unions.
“It is chaos. It is bad,” said Garamendi. “We’ve got our hands full across America…The one hand that has the potential to change the direction of this country is the hand of labor.”
Garamendi told the crowd that he believed union members organizing was a key way to reset the American political agenda in favor of working people.
“You know what it is when you are down, you know what it is to get back up,” he said.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg also spoke at the event on the national political challenges, and the union strength that Sacramento has.
“We can either get down and depressed or we can fight,” Steinberg said. “We can either say it’s hopeless or we can build a community.”
On the local level, Steinberg spoke about the need to train future generations for middle class and union jobs.
“We must always grow the connections as we grow Sacramento between creating jobs and enlarging industry and making sure our people are first in line for those high-wage jobs,” Steinberg said. “Because it starts with the 15 and 16 year olds. We build the labor movement not just with the adults in the room but with those young people.”
Sacramento Central Labor Council executive director Fabrizo Sasso also spoke, highlighting the historic power of unions.
“This is the simple greatest crisis this country has faced in over 80 years,” said Sasso. “Historically the only thing that has ever corrected this vicious cycle is the power of the people standing together, fighting for what’s right. And that’s the power of unions. The rich and the powerful know that working people standing together in unions is the only thing that stands in the way of them achieving total domination. We must fully embrace, all of us, the axiom that an injury to one is an injury to all. Brothers and Sisters, we have to stand together if we want to save this country.”
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla warned of the dangers of voter suppression and voter apathy. He thanked union members for being active to bring out the vote, calling out, “the folks who are knocking on doors, making phone calls, registering voters and getting people to the polls.”
“It is each and every one of you,” said Padilla. “Voting rights are under attack in the United States of America… And I would argue, Brothers and Sisters, the right to vote and the right to organize are one in the same. How do you organize a union? You take a vote… Trump is coming after our right to vote. Resistance isn’t just pushing back. Resistance is pushing forward with good ideas.”