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One of most common questions I get, as Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council is what exactly is the labor council? Technically, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council is a central body affiliate of the AFL-CIO.
We are not a union, but rather a union of unions. Our central labor council has over 110 different affiliated labor groups, with nearly 120,000 working families throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties.
More importantly, our members are your neighbors. They are nurses, janitors, electricians, bus drivers, and social workers. We represent teachers, plumbers, firefighters, hotel maids and grocery workers. I think this is often forgotten by the mainstream media — specifically the Union Tribune – that would like to paint organized labor as some scary, fringe group. They like to use derogatory terms like “big labor,” “special interest” and “labor bosses” rather than identifying us as the coalition of hard working men and women who help make this community function.
So, who exactly is big labor?
The nurse who just immunized your daughter — most likely, she is “big labor.” And, the gentleman who served you a sandwich at the coffee shop — yep, big labor. Your postal worker who delivers your mail everyday, watch out, he’s big labor too. Even that sweet older lady, who manages the office of your son’s elementary school … you got it… big labor.
So, the labor council’s function is to bring together all of these workers and their individual unions together to form a cohesive voice to advocate for working families in the region. Along with our unions and our union employers, we have helped ensure that over 100,000 San Diegans have health insurance, a secure retirement, and are vibrant members of the middle class. We think that is a success, and that is what we are all about.
But, that is not all we do.
We also provide services and a voice for non-union workers as well. The labor council runs one of the most highly regarded worker training programs in California. We provide vocational and technical training skills to unemployed workers to make them employable in a modern, competitive workforce. We also have an Employee Rights Center that assists non-union workers with unpaid wage claims, workers compensation insurance, unsafe working condition claims and other work place issues.
So, next time you read about the special interest of organized labor, maybe you will have a different perspective.