Rudy carried his first Union card at the age of 18 as a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. After serving as a shop steward, he volunteered as a member organizer and learned to campaign in the South, where he saw firsthand the struggle that workers face when they attempt to unionize under hostile conditions.
Informed by his Catholic upbringing's social justice doctrine and motivated by a sense of stewardship instilled by his father’s lifelong career as a firefighter, he found purpose in building power for workers.
In 2008, he was hired as a full-time Business Representative and Organizer for Teamsters 856. He negotiated private and public sector contracts in Northern California, rising to the rank of Director, and was elected twice as Vice President. During his time at 856, he led organizing campaigns that nearly doubled the size and strength of the local union, which now boasts 17,000 members.
In May of 2018, Rudy was selected by his peers on the SFLC Executive Committee to assist the Council as Interim Executive Director. In August of 2018, Rudy was nominated and elected unanimously by the Council delegates to a two-year term, becoming the first person of color and youngest person elected in the 125-year history of the SFLC.
At the Labor Council, Rudy lead the staff team to assist affiliated unions with political mobilization, contract campaigns, and strategic organizing. Under his leadership, the Council shored up its finances, hired the first-ever Campaign Director, and revamped the political and affiliate support apparatus. Rudy is most proud of the recently-launched Labor in the Schools program, which will bring labor curriculum and union awareness to a new generation of San Franciscans.
He enjoys spending his off time with his family in Oakland, where he resides with his wife, Sarah, and their three children, Zoe (12), Jules (10), Isaac (3), and their English bulldog, Oliver.
In the time I’ve spent working in the labor movement, I’ve been lucky enough to pick up a few skills in fighting for the kinds of mandates that unions and councils have been winning (and sometimes losing) for centuries.
The head of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, Brother Robbie Hunter, has announced his retirement. Since 2012, Robbie has been our tip of the spear in Sacramento, fighting on behalf of 180 local unions that represent more than 450,000 skilled workers, including 68,000 apprentices.
This month, cycle 34 of CityBuild Academy graduated, with instructors, friends, and family participating on Zoom. SF Building Trades President Larry Mazzola Jr. and I attended and offered closing remarks.
As the public conversation about climate justice grows louder and more urgent, we have seen little coverage on the matter of worker protections and labor standards. The fact is that these so-called great jobs are hard to find because they are mostly non-union. Take, for example, wind and solar industry projects: They are 77% and 82% non-union, respectively.
Nearly 51 years ago, the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed. This law, which gave the federal government the authority to set and enforce health and safety standards for most U.S. workers, was signed under a Republican president, and was opposed by Labor.
By now, you’ve learned of the SF Labor Council granting strike sanction to the San Francisco janitors who are members of SEIU 87. Their President, Olga Miranda, is not one to make empty threats, and as long as I’ve known her, she doesn’t flinch when the bosses of her industry throw a punch.
If you were holding a copy of The San Francisco Call in your hands on this day 125 years ago, you’d be reading about the arrival of William Pinkerton and his detective agency to the City, where they were contracting with corporations.
Happy New Year from the Secretary-Treasurer’s Office. For me, like many, this greeting has taken on a new meaning coming out of a year like 2020. Our democracy has been tested like no other time in history, public health and structural racism are discussed with our children at the dinner table, the underbelly of an unjust economy has been revealed yet again, and we have lost too many friends, coworkers and family to a disease that is ravaging the globe.
Rudy Gonzalez carried his first Union card at the age of 18 as a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. After serving as a shop steward, he volunteered as a member organizer and learned to campaign in the South, where he saw firsthand the struggle that workers face when they attempt to unionize under hostile conditions.