Activists from throughout the North San Joaquin Valley came together for a graduation ceremony Saturday, the culmination of a four-week program designed to identify and activate rank-and-file members through a series of trainings.
The North Valley Labor Federation’s TEAM (Training to Educate and Activate Members) Program, brought groups of activists together in three groups focused around the NVLF’s constituent central labor councils: the San Joaquin-Calaveras CLC in Stockton, the Stanislaus-Tuolumne CLC in Modesto, and the Merced-Mariposa CLC in Merced.
California Labor Federation's Mai Syed demonstrates the importance of Power Building in Stockton
33 members representing 19 different unions were given a ground-up training program featuring power analysis, power builing, economics, volunteer recruitment, and voter contact strategies. The program was designed to recruit identify new rank and file activists and build interest and skills for the NVLF’s political program in 2014 and beyond.
Jerome Brooks, 3rd Vice President of AFGE Local 1546 and program participant, said:
“The course empowered me with the knowledge to go forward in our struggle. It’s what you do with what you know that makes you who you are.”
The program also served as a great way to connect existing leaders with new activists, as many of the current CLC leaders participated with the new activists. Richard Andazola, Teamsters 439 member and President of the San Joaquin Calaveras CLC agrees:
“Being in the TEAM program was a great experience! It was a great opportunity to work together with other rank and file members from several different unions.
“We learned how to use our collective resources to fight for working families in our own communities. This is what the labor movement is all about! I look forward to working with all of the great union members I met in the TEAM program. Together we can make a difference for the working class in our community.”
The injection of new activists comes at a critical time in the North Valley, where unemployment, foreclosure and crime rates continue to outpace those from around the state. However, shifting demographics from the continued expansion of the Bay Area and Sacramento, a growing Latino population and the promise of thousands of High Speed Rail jobs, leaves the North Valley full of potential.
Mike Loza, President of the North Valley Labor Federation, said:
“The future is looking brighter in the North Valley, and one reason big reason is these TEAM activists stepping forward. We can’t thank our trainers and organizers enough for putting together a program that identified and inspired such amazing new member-activists.”
Trainers for the event included Josh Anijar of the AFL-CIO, Jason Haenel of AFSCME, Tim Robertson of the NVLF, Mai Syed of the California Labor Federation, and Jessica Ulstad of the California Federation of Teachers.
Next, TEAM Program graduates will be quickly integrated into the Fall campaigns of the CLCs and the NVLF, focusing on volunteer recruitment and voter contact.
Abel Lemas, a member of CSEA Chapter 73, said:
“Learning so much so quickly with all my peers has been a wonderful experience. More importantly, I think everyone is ready to get right to work winning campaigns for working families this Fall and beyond.”