‘Big troublemakers’ gather for Salute to Labor

By Sheri Williams

Labor leaders and allies gathered for the Salute to Labor event in late May, honoring icons of the movement along with young organizers.

“I am grateful and honored to be here in person with you all tonight,” Sacramento Central Labor Council executive director Fabrizio Sasso told the crowd. “This room represents the future of the Labor movement, here in Sacramento and across the state. It holds not only the leaders who have brought us through the years and challenges, but also the leaders of tomorrow, who are taking on new fights and moving us toward a better future.”

Awards were presented to former Sacramento Central Labor Council executive director Bill Camp and Susan Sachen of the California Federation of Labor. Legacy awards went to Sacramento Labor icon Dean Murakami and Ken Burt, a beloved member of the California Federation of Teachers.

Murakami, who passed away in 2020, served as President of the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers as well as Interim President and Vice President of the Sacramento Central Labor Council.

“His steady, fair, firm, solid, gentle, kind, level-headed, direct leadership is the exemplar by which we should all strive to achieve,” said Sasso.

The event also honored the essential workers who have remained on the job during the pandemic. Political leaders including Eric Guerra, Dave Jones and Karina Talamantes were also in attendance.

Dolores Huerta presented the A. Philip Randolph award to Camp. Randolph was a unionist and civil rights activist who organized the first successful African American-led union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, in 1925.

Camp told the gathering that those present represented “the best that Labor has to offer” and were the “giants of the Labor movement.”

“I want to talk a little bit about the true meaning of solidarity,” Camp continued.

“When we talk about solidarity, who is in our vision, who is a part of our vision, it’s important we are all a part of that vision,” he said.

Camp, a longtime champion of Cuba and the workers’ rights movement there, stressed that international ties were critical in a time when capital routinely crosses borders.

“The truth is that capital investment is worldwide, so we have to build relationships with workers all over the world if we want success,” Camp said. “We’re challenging the domination of unrestrained greed that is illustrated by the corporate big money in the United States. Ours is to care for the common good. We are people who believe solidarity is about treating each other well as we care for the common good.”

Camp also spoke about Labor icon Dolores Huerta, who presented the award to him. “We have to have a vision that inspires workers and Dolores is a great articulator of that vision,” he said. “She helps us understand who we are and what we are about.”

Camp ended is remarks speaking about leadership, and what it means to be a union leader. “You are big great troublemakers,” he said. “Because making big trouble is a requirement of leadership. Because if you are not standing up to challenge the status quo, you are not leading. All of you who cause trouble, it’s your leadership and we are deeply grateful. We each do it in a different way but it’s the challenge of the status quo that sets us aside as a group of leaders.” Camp continued, “But in addition to that, we understand that our commitment is to enable other people to be successful, not just for ourselves. Each and every one of you touches the hearts of other people, inspires other people to lead, and that is what makes our movement great.”