By Sheri Williams
Sacramento’s Labor community joined with friends and allies in October to celebrate the 20th annual Salute to Labor awards.
The theme of the sold-out evening was solidarity, justice and dignity.
“Solidarity is about, we come from the same place, we are fighting for the same thing,” said Local 1000 president, and President of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, Yvonne Walker, who welcomed guests to the event. “And if you fall, I am going to reach back and pick you up. That is what solidarity is.”
Walker continued, “I believe that all work, regardless of what it is, has dignity, always.”
Sacramento Central Labor Council Executive Director Fabrizio Sasso spoke about Labor’s accomplishments over the past year, and the fights ahead.
“We are the ones who built the American Dream,” Sasso said. “We are the ones who built the middle class. And we have to accept that that is our role. As it was in the past, it is today. We are here to rebuild the middle class and reimagine the American Dream for all workers in this country.”
Fabrizio stressed that diversity and inclusivity were critical to Labor now and in the future, and that issues including criminal justice reform, immigration and affordable housing were priorities for Labor as it fights not only for good jobs, but equity and opportunity for all workers.
“I am talking about bargaining for the common good, the common good that helps everyone,” said Sasso. “Because this helps our movement grow.”
Dozens of state and local politicians attended, many speaking not just of the value of Organized Labor for working families, but also of its necessity in California as the federal government seeks to curtail workers’ rights and attack working families.
U.S. Congressman John Garamendi spoke strongly of the need to impeach President Donald Trump.
“He has sold out our democracy and it cannot happen,” said Garamendi. “And we are going to change that.”
But Garamendi said federal legislators could “walk and chew gum” at the same time and would continue to move forward on legislation to help American workers, including ensuring access to affordable medical care.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg also spoke, highlighting the strong legacy of Labor in Sacramento.
“Let me tell you something that will never change about Sacramento,” said Steinberg. “We have always been a Labor town. We are a proud Labor town and we will always be a proud Labor town.”
Steinberg highlighted the city’s recent rent control ordinance, which was crafted by Labor and its allies, and has become a statewide model. The new law provides protections for renters against unjust rent increases and evictions at a time when housing costs in the state are soaring and more families are losing their homes.
The Salute to Labor dinner also honored Jack L. Loveall with its Legacy Award for his decades of work in California and across the nation. Loveall is President Emeritus of UFCW 588, and was senior International Vice President of the union for more than 30 years until his retirement in 2005. Loveall spoke about the importance of unions in his family, and his lifelong commitment to helping working families organize and prosper.
“All of my family, from my uncles to my aunts … were all in unions,” he said. “Now I have grandkids in the unions.”
The Fred Ross Sr. Excellence in Organizing award went to Childcare Providers United, who won their fight to unionize this year.
This year’s Community Partner award went to the United Way California Capital Region, which has a longstanding relationship with the Sacramento Central Labor Council.
“The United Way AFL-CIO partnership has done great things in Sacramento,” said its Labor Liaison, Greg Larkins. “The work we do together truly helps our communities and makes us stronger.”