On Saturday May 14, 2022, more than 65 IBEW 1245 Organizing Stewards met in Stockton, CA to learn about the union difference, hear from labor leaders about the huge political stakes for all working families in the upcoming midterm elections, and double down on our commitment to educate and mobilize the vote.
The theme of the day: Labor Leaders in Politics – Why Politics Matter in the Labor Movement. Each presentation highlighted the direct and indirect impact that politics, lawmakers and legislation have on 1245 members specifically, and working families in general.
Labor Leaders Liz Ortega (head of the Alameda Central Labor Council), and Tim Robertson (head of the North Valley Labor Federation), headlined the day, along with Aly Young, the new Organizing Director of the California Labor Federation and IBEW 1245’s political director, Hunter Stern. Ortega is running for Assembly District 20 in the Bay Area, and Robertson is running for Senate District 4, which stretches from the central valley up north to El Dorado County.
Over the years, our organizing stewards have built strong relationships with these labor leaders, representing 1245 as delegates on their respective labor councils and fighting to advance Labor’s priorities in the state. The impact has been felt at the bargaining table for our members.
Our guest speakers took time out of their busy campaign schedules to speak to our members, sharing their motivation to run for office and how they will apply their labor experience to advocate for unions and the working class. They underscored the imperative to win elected positions to protect Labor’s gains and to advance the interests of working families.
Six of our lead organizing stewards also presented at the training, sharing their experience of working and leading campaigns and how it has impacted their lives. For several, it was their first time presenting, and they knocked it out of the park!
Lead Organizing Steward Rodrigo Flores shared his experience as a candidate for his local School Board, losing by just one vote, and later being appointed to the position. He offered a unique perspective as a union-member-turned-candidate, as well as the challenges and rewards that come with being an elected official, including the satisfaction of having a voice over decisions that directly impact our families.
IBEW 1245 Assistant Business Manager Hunter Stern outlined IBEW 1245’s priorities for the 2022 primary this spring, as well as the midterm election in the fall.
We broke into smaller groups, and brainstormed how to hold conversations with co-workers and how to effectively mobilize our peers, family and friends to participate in politics and volunteer for get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts.
At the end of the day, we passed sign-up sheets to door knock for Robertson and Ortega on the following Saturday, May 21 in El Dorado and Alameda. More than a dozen people signed up.
Overall, it was a momentous day, and a reminder that to keep our organizing program strong and growing, we must get out there and see our members in person. This is the outcome of years of great work that we have cultivated, and our new members that came for the first time reminded us that we have the power to make a difference.
I left with a sense of inspiration to keep going. We need to reach as many of our members as possible and invite them to come out and learn more about union activism. Together, we are stronger.
–Rene Cruz Martinez, IBEW 1245 Assistant Business Manager
“The Organizing Steward training in Stockton was my first formal training with the whole crew since being afforded the opportunity to become an Organizing Steward in 2022. The organizing group, as always, was uplifting and brought a motivating and inspiring message of solidarity. I feel like there were moments, especially during Liz Ortega and Tim Robertson’s presentations, where the entire room was energized! During these weird times in the world, it’s refreshing to be around a group who is driven by the common goal of growing the Labor Movement and spreading unity and fellowship! Events like these undoubtedly rekindle the spark that drives us to want to be involved in such an incredible and remarkable program. Thank you all again for this opportunity!” – New Organizing Steward Michael Tilden
“My highlight of the training was when Charlotte asked the group ‘Why does politics matter to us?’ I think this is a good question to ask the new organizing stewards, because it will be their “why” when we are boots-on-the-ground walking miles a day to canvass, or when we are phone-banking for hours at a time. Not everyone understands why politics are important, but I believe it is the first thing we should learn as we start our journey as Organizing Stewards. Politics are important to us because bills can be passed that affect our work as IBEW 1245 members, but there are also instances when legislation can affect other unions. When this happens, it is important to know that their fight is our fight, and our fight is theirs –because that’s what solidarity looks like. ✊🏽” – Lead Organizing Steward Brenda Balcazar
“The training was very educational and reiterated the need to get active in our union. The presentation was well put together and highlighted not only how we can get involved with our local union, but also how to improve our personal skills in organizing. The highlights for me were the community speakers, and the breakout session that focused on building communication among other stewards, exchanging the wealth of knowledge I especially had at my table.” — Longtime Organizing Steward Lorenso Arciniega
“The energy throughout the training was electrifying. Our special guests Tim Robertson and Liz Ortega spoke to the stewards on why politics matter and explained their reasons for running for office. It was inspiring to hear from labor leaders that have placed their hat in the ring and will carry our values once elected. We also heard from Aly Young, the Organizing Director for the California Labor Federation, as she encouraged us all with her work within the labor movement. Our stewards are fired up and ready to hit the ground running as they build power with our brotherhood and sisterhood.” – IBEW 1245 Staff Organizer Charlotte Stevens