By Sheri Williams
The Sacramento Central Labor Council came together to celebrate Labor Day in person this year, after postponing last year due to the pandemic.
Hundreds of union members picnicked at Fairytale Town in Land Park for the annual event, where members enjoyed barbeque, beverages and the company of those they had not seen in person for months.
“This is a long time coming,” said SCLC executive director Fabrizio Sasso. “We didn’t know if we were going to have this this year. We have the Delta variant out there, we have the recall going on. I am glad that people wanted to show up.
There was a lot of tragedy and heartbreak and a lot of people got sick this year and a lot of people died this year,” he continued. “This was a year where our community rallied around workers, they said these essential workers, they were always essential, but are finally being recognized for the work they do.
They put their lives on the line, they went to work when some of us got to stay home and work from home, like myself. I had the luxury and privilege to do that. Some people got laid off, and others had to go into work every single day, and they had to go home and expose their families. Those are the heroes of the pandemic. And that is what we need to celebrate. And for all of you who supported them during this pandemic, thank you for supporting them and recognizing this work.”
Sasso was joined on stage by the executive board of the SCLC, Labor leaders from the region and elected officials.
The all-union band “Clean Slate” entertained the crowd, with Sasso thanking the American Federation of Musicians Local 12 for making sure that the band members had the protections of a union.
Armando Guerro, from Sheetmetal Workers 104 and the new president of the SCLC, also greeted guests.
“I am very flattered, honored to have this trust upon me,” he said of his new leadership role. “I wasn’t expecting it, but I work with a bunch of great people.”
He also thanked the union members present.
“I wanted to thank you as the Labor movement because without you, phone banks don’t happen. Precinct walks don’t happen,” he said. “And I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart because we can come up with the best plans in the world but if you are not there, it doesn’t happen. So happy Labor Day.”
Sasso also paid tribute to Labor leaders who passed away this year, including Ken Burt from California Federation of Teachers, Latino labor icon Al Rojas, and Dean Murakami. On the national level, he paid tribute to AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka who died unexpectedly earlier this year.
“This is a time for all of us to step up in our own leadership,” Sasso said. “We are here because we believe in Labor. We are not here to just eat a hot dog and drink a beer and mingle. We are here because we feel something when we pay our union dues, when we are active in our union. So, we are here to step up into this next generation of leadership and I am asking you to do that.”
Sasso ended his speech with two calls to action for Labor members in coming months. First, he called upon union members to fight for the passage of the PRO Act on the national level, the largest and most important piece of worker legislation in decades.
“We need to make sure that the PRO Act gets passed in the Senate,” he said. “We need to kill the filibuster. There are some folks in the Senate who say they stand with working people but don’t have the record to prove it. And so we need to hold them accountable.”
He also urged accountability at the local level, especially when it comes to spending federal pandemic funds, including $2.8 million in Sacramento.
“We know that trickle-down economics doesn’t work,” he said. “We have to demand that city councils and counties and special districts are spending money to make sure that the working people who are affected by this pandemic are taken care of. Ask your city council member, ask them to make sure they fund worker programs, programs that empower workers.”