IBEW Local 1245 has once again been honored and awarded for its outstanding Organizing Steward program.
A group of Local 1245 Organizing Stewards and aspiring Organizing Stewards, along with Business Manager Tom Dalzell, received the inaugural “Movement Builders” award from the Contra Costa Central Labor Council at its annual Labor-to-Labor Dinner on September 17.
The union was recognized for going above and beyond by dispatching several dedicated member-activists to work on the Susan Bonilla for State Senate campaign, which took place earlier this year. The Organizing Stewards from Local 1245 quickly stepped into leadership roles on the campaign and provided critical assistance and coordination during an exceedingly difficult election.
“It was really refreshing to get this absolute jolt – pun intended – of energy that came with having the Organizing Stewards come and join us,” Contra Costa Central Labor Council Executive Director Margaret Hanlon-Gradie said just before handing out the awards. “It not only reinvigorated the Labor Council at a time when we were slugging through an election, it showed other unions, ‘This is how you can do it!’”
“It boils down to the investment we make in our organizations, and this union makes big investments – not only in rank-and-file workers, but in young workers, women have places of power, and people have pathways to leadership. That’s how we grow a strong movement!” Hanlon-Gradie continued.
Local 1245 members Rosario Garcia, Nicole Gross, Treva Harrison, Ricardo Hernandez, Steven Marcotte, Ivan Pereda, Rachel Ramirez Hill, Kristen Rasmussen and Eric Sunderland were recognized by name, and each received a personalized plaque from the Labor Council. The Labor Council also gave Local 1245 a framed award to display in the union hall.
“When we started our [Organizing Steward] program, we had a couple reasons for doing it. Times were changing and we need to be able to fight the good fight on the streets…. And as a matter of survival, we needed to reach younger workers. We really didn’t have a choice. In five years, our movement will be gone if we don’t reach out to the next generation of workers,” Dalzell told the attendees at the Awards Dinner. “I would say that I am humbled by this award, but that’s sort of a lie, because the award is not about me at all. This award is really about these men and women who will fight the fight that Tom Joad* talked about when he walked away from the campfire that night.”
*Tom Joad, a character from John Steinbeck’s classic 1939 novel “Grapes of Wrath,” fought for the dispossessed during the Great Depression. Bruce Springsteen’s 1995 recording, “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” has helped keep alive Tom Joad’s iconic status, just as union organizers today carry on the cause of assisting workers who need help.