856 Vice President Honored

Unionism runs in the family. 856 Vice President Rudy Gonzalez (r) with his father Jesse Gonzalez, retired City of Richmond firefighter, 29 years, IAFF Local 188.

Union roots run deep. 856 Vice President Rudy Gonzalez (R) with his father, Jesse Gonzalez, at the SF Living Wage Coalition dinner on July 17, 2015. Rudy’s father, now retired, was an IAFF Local 188 firefighter for the City of Richmond for 29 years.

On Friday, July 17, the San Francisco Living Wage Coalition honored 856 Vice President Rudy Gonzalez with its Labor Man of the Year award at its annual fundraiser. SEIU 1021’s Vice President of Politics, Alysabeth Alexander, received the Labor Woman of the Year award.

“I’m humbled,” Gonzalez said of the recognition. “The Living Wage Coalition is a true blue organization fighting for economic justice.”

Gonzalez accepted the award on behalf of the Teamsters 856 Edgewood Workers Rising Committee – a group of low-wage non-profit workers who won a hard-fought organizing campaign to become Local 856 members earlier this year.

“In the face of adversity, in the face of coercion and a campaign of fear and retaliation, they stood together and they organized and they won,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez encouraged the attendees to keep up the attack on income inequality, particularly in the tech industry where low-wage service workers, such as shuttle drivers and custodians, often work long hours, split shifts, and have considerable commutes all the while working alongside employees making upwards of six figures.

“With every ballot initiative, every elected seat, and every organizing campaign let’s recommit ourselves to a movement that demands justice for all workers,” he said.

Started in 1998, the San Francisco Living Wage Coalition is a grassroots movement of low-wage workers, unions, and community allies working to change political priorities so that government does not subsidize poverty wage employers.

The Coalition has helped to pass legislation in San Francisco to increase the minimum and living wage, and close loopholes.

“All of us at Local 856 congratulate Rudy,” said Teamsters 856 Principal Officer Peter Finn. “The passion and perseverance he demonstrated throughout the Edgewood campaign is an illustration of the commitment needed to organize the unorganized and give workers a voice on the job.”