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.
With the $1 trillion Infrastructure and Jobs Act a done deal since November, billions in federal dollars are now beginning to filter down to state governments throughout the United States.
While we’re most likely to see images of celebrities and elected officials flashing on the screen as Black History Month progresses, few — if any — will honor the legacy of trailblazing Black labor leaders of America.
It’s been a little over a year since the events of January 6, 2021. That day, the U.S. Capitol was attacked by a violent mob of Donald Trump supporters ginned up with rage after having been systematically fed the lie that their preferred candidate was cheated out of a second presidential term.
As 2021 draws to a close, a disturbing number of members and apprentices remain out of work and in dire financial straits. The persistently high rate of unemployment makes it clear that the impact of COVID-19 is still very much with us, and the toll that this pandemic has taken on our industry across the crafts continues to cut us all deeply.
On Monday, November 15, President Joe Biden put his signature on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, making it law.
As our local schools navigate the pandemic, inequities reveal themselves. Disparities in funding are becoming more obvious, as are the challenges of truly addressing today’s educational needs — both in terms of resourcing and modernizing the institutions in which our children spend their days and meeting the demand for vocational education with a pipeline to apprenticeship.
The 20-year commemoration of the 9/11 attacks has come and gone in the national news cycle. But for so many survivors of that tragic day in American history — and their family members and friends, as well as the friends and family of the 2,996 people who died during the attacks — 9/11 is much more than an occasion to relive through news packages and op-ed columns once yearly.
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.