By Sheri Williams
Hundreds of union families came together on Labor Day to celebrate a year of successes and the solidarity that made them possible.
Union members gathered once again for a barbeque at Fairytale Town in Land Park to mark the holiday, joined by local politicians and allies.
“We’ve all stood together and have really made a difference in peoples lives,” said Fabrizio Sasso, executive director of the Sacramento Central Labor Council. “If you look at the teacher’s strike earlier this year and the strike that happened over at the University of California, all of our unions showed up in solidarity and unity and we were stronger for it and we are going to continue to stand together in unity in these trying times.”
Sasso pointed out other Labor successes of the year as well.
“We stood with our federal workers when there was a government shutdown, we stood for our immigrant brothers and sisters as they are being detained. We stand against the NAFTA 2.0, that wants to outsource more jobs from this country.”
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg also spoke at the event, highlighting the recent passage of an anti-wage gouging ordinance by the City Council, an effort put forth by Labor and community groups.
“We can have great success getting people off the street but it will only be half a victory if they are only replaced by the next cohort of people who become homeless because they are forced out of the places that they live,” said Steinberg. “We need reasonable rent regulation, not just in this city but in this state so that people who are housed, and yes, housed and fragile, can remain housed and not become fragile and unhoused and homeless. That is not right for Sacramento, and that is not right for California.”
Art Pulaski, head of the California Labor Federation, discussed the importance of Assembly Bill 5, signed into law a few days after the event by Governor Gavin Newsom. The new law will help prevent corporations from misclassifying workers as independent contractors to avoid paying fair wages and benefits. The hotly contested measure was strongly backed by unions across the state and the nation, and was not an easy fight for Labor to win.
“We are going to save two million workers in California who are forced into this servitude of independent contractor,” said Pulaski. “We are going to fight to give them better jobs, force those employers to give them the jobs they need.”
Steinberg also talked about the volunteer work that Labor devotes to the community.
“This morning I was privileged to participate with the Labor Movement at Loaves and Fishes,” Steinberg said. “It is a great tradition, but one I don’t think we should take for granted, because think about it. The working men and women of Sacramento have every right to take the day off. But instead, by the dozens, working men and women show up to feed those who are less fortunate, and that speaks to the values of the Labor Movement and our community.”
Senator Richard Pan also spoke, focusing some of his remarks on the Labor issue health care workers currently have with Kaiser Permanente.
“The workers on the front line are actually taking care of the patients,” said Pan. “And what we want to do is make sure the people who are taking care of the patients are being taken care of as well.”
While highlighting the many victories of Labor in the past year, both Sasso and Steinberg also focused on coming fights, and the need to organize for the 2020 elections.
“There are so many things to fight for in our community and our country and of course it begins with taking back our country in 2020,” said Steinberg. “And you know we have such an opportunity to model not only the progressive policies that can spread throughout our country, but we can model the way to talk to one another, the way to treat one another, the way to work together, the way to solve problems, the way democracy should really be.”
Sasso added that local elections will matter as well.
“We need your help next year to make sure we have someone in the White House who will represent us, working people, working families, in 2020,” said Sasso. “We’ve got to do it at the local level too and we have to hold our local elected officials accountable as well.”