Rosalino 'Lino' Pedres
Former President of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO
The labor community has many heroes working tirelessly to give a voice to working people and ensure they are protected and treated with fairness. Among them, Rosalino Pedres stands out. Against all odds, Rosalino rose through the ranks of his janitor's union. His family immigrated when he was young, he had to learn a whole new language, he was one of the twelve children and they struggled in poverty. But his secret is simple: he is a hard-worker, naturally witty and his kind-heart required him to look out for his fellow janitors. He was never going to leave them behind.
Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Rosalino Pedres and I was born in Veracruz Mexico on April 1, 1963. I am one in a family of 12. We were all workers and immigrated from a very poor community in Veracruz to The Bay Area early 1980's. I worked as a Janitor and became involved with my union, SEIU Local 1877. Through my organizing work, I played a crucial leadership role in giving a voice to thousands of janitors in the Silicon Valley that were underpaid and lacked basic benefits and job security.
As a Union organizer, I was also very active in my community. I was a co-founder of SIREN "Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network. SIREN now is a great asset to the Silicon Valley Community. They help with DACA, Citizenship workshops, Community Organizing, Legal services and Youth Leadership Group.
I moved to Sacramento in 2001 and continue representing the Janitors. Janitors are some of the hardest workers in our community and they deserve to be paid a living wage and provide for the families. I am proud to have led the historic 2003 Janitors strike which won, for the first time, family healthcare for Sacramento Janitors. I have also played a leadership role forming SEIU USWW, which was a merge of three Unions SEIU Local 1877, SEIU 24/7 and SEIU Local 2006.
How have you made a difference in your community?
Hard-working men and women are the backbone of our community. Without an organized and unified voice for working people, our middle class is at risk and our communities are at risk. The system is set up to provide corporations with more power, but unions help to balance the power of the wealthy. I am working to give a voice to people - your neighbors, the clerk at your store, and the janitor that cleans the shiny office building downtown. We are working together to protect and sustain communities.
Why is the work important to you?
Because I am one of them and I care very deeply about the working people in our community. There are way too many people who cannot get ahead and it is not for a lack of trying. If we are going to save the middle class, working people will need to band together and work collectively to protect ourselves.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Helping to provide a level playing field for the labor and immigrant communities.
What have you struggled most with in your life?
Poverty and Racial discrimination
What lessons are important for future generations?
Find your passion and work hard. The hard work will pay you back.
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
Our Sacramento region needs Youth Leadership groups to inspire greater civic participation and mentoring opportunities.
How do you decompress?
I meditate and often do "self evaluation" to try to improve my set of values and principles.