Executive Director of the
Sacramento Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Tell us a little about yourself:
I'm the son of Italian immigrants and am originally from Stockton, California. I moved to Sacramento about 10 years ago for work and have lived in the East Sacramento neighborhood that whole time. I received my Bachelor's in Political Science at UC Santa Barbara and my Master's of Public Administration at USC. I currently work at the Sacramento Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO as the Executive Director. We are a federation of the area's labor unions that advocate for issues affecting working people and families.
How are you making a difference in your community?
I am most passionate about recreating the middle class and the American dream that has been continuously in decline due to greedy corporations, CEOs, and billionaires who exploit working families in this country for their own profit. My work with the Sacramento Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO educates the community about the importance of Unions and our impact on building a strong middle class through high road jobs, with good pay and benefits, and good working conditions. We advocate for every worker. In my time at the Sacramento CLC, I have worked on increasing the minimum wage in Sacramento and throughout the state, immigration rights, rent control, closing the wage gap for women and people of color, healthcare for all, ending the misclassification of employees as independent contractors, promoting good democracy through voter registration and education and advocating for cities to change their election system to by-district elections thereby making it easier for people (especially in disenfranchised and marginalized communities) to run for office within a district, which is cheaper, rather than citywide.
What inspires your community efforts?
My parents came to this country in search of the American dream. They have worked as janitors for over 50 years as independent contractors. They work over 40 hours a week, 6 days a week with no retirement security and healthcare for most of their working lives (they just aged into Medicare). Their story is similar to so many million other working people in this country who are misclassified as independent contractors, being exploited by companies recognizing their workers as employees in order to increase profits. This has contributed to the wealth inequality crisis in this country and is killing the American dream for future generations. I have committed my life to fixing this problem to ensure that every worker has a chance to have a good quality of life, so that we can have a healthy economy and thriving communities.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the work I and so many other people did in elevating the conversation around what it means to be a minimum wage worker and fighting to increase the minimum wage in the state of California. We organized thousands of minimum wage workers, mostly from the fast food industry, to raise their voices and demand higher wages from corporations that are making billions of dollars in profits from their hard work.
What have you struggled most with in your life?
I am not a very good note-taker and I struggle to understand what little notes I do scribble. On the one hand, it forces me to listen intently and helps with keeping my memory sharp. On the other hand, I sometimes miss little details that would be otherwise captured through good note taking.
What kind of lessons do you think are important to instill in future generations?
Organize! Power concedes nothing without struggle. It is important that future generations understand that systemic change does not occur unless people are organized into action. I'm not talking about showing up to a march once a year or hitting the like button on social media. I am talking about direct action. Show up to a city council, school board, or county meeting. Talk to your neighbors, educate them on issues, get them to work with you to advocate and keep up the pressure to demand change. There is power in numbers.
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
The rising cost of housing is squeezing our community's working families. Right now, families are having to make difficult decisions whether to pay the increase costs in rent or put food on the table. While the Sacramento Central Labor Council advocates for livable wages for all our community's workers, wages in the area aren't keeping up with the rising cost of housing. We need solutions to the housing crisis like building more affordable housing and rent control that will give families some relief and a fighting chance for the American dream.
How do you decompress?
One of the ways I like to decompress is taking a couple of days off and going off the grid. I refresh when I can avoid phone calls, emails and texts for a couple of days.