Q. What is the San Francisco Labor Council?
The SFLC is the local body of the AFL-CIO and was chartered in 1893 to be the coordinating regional body for labor cooperation and unity. We are a membership organization serving as a coalition of the Labor Community in San Francisco. Over 150 unions are affiliated with the SFLC, representing more than 100,000 union members and their families. The SFLC believes there is strength in unity. In this vein, the SFLC is proud to work with unions affiliated with both the AFL-CIO and Change To Win. Change To Win unions with workers in San Francisco participate in the Solidarity Charter program through the AFL-CIO and are full affiliates of the SFLC. The mission of the SFLC is to improve the lives of workers, their families, and our community – to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to the nation. We accomplish this mission by working to build worker power through work on political education and action, economic development in San Francisco, union organizing, a community service and training program, and educational programs for the community.
Q. What is the structure of the SFLC?
The Executive Director is the full-time executive whose duties are to run the day-to-day operations of the Council. This includes implementing policy established by the delegate body, serving as spokesperson, managing the finances, conducting correspondence, and directing the legislative and political programs.
The Executive Committee is the steering committee of the Council. It includes 25 members in addition to the officers. It meets twice monthly to prepare policy recommendations to the delegate body, review and recommend action to the delegates as necessary on correspondence, act on Council business between meetings of the delegates, and engage in long- and short-term planning for the Council. The Executive Committee also serves as the COPE Committee in recommending candidates and ballot measures to the full Council.
Q. What does the SFLC do?
The Labor Council involves members in legislative action to win pro-worker gains and fight anti-labor legislation. Strong political and legislative programs make politicians responsive to our needs. In addition to local issues, the Council works closely with the national AFL-CIO on federal issues and the California Labor Federation on state issues. Activities range from meeting with lawmakers on important issues to extensive grassroots pressure campaigns.
One way the Labor Council advocates Labor’s interests is through political action. Union members and their families mobilize to elect public officials who support our issues. Through political organizing and the ability to “Get Out the Vote,” the Council is able to hold elected officials accountable to workers.
Labor Neighbor/COPE (Committee on Political Education) is the political arm of the Council. Through Labor Neighbor, unionists have the opportunity to interview candidates for office and decide whether they deserve Labor’s endorsement. Labor Council delegates vote on all endorsements of candidates and ballot measures. Once a candidate is COPE-endorsed, Labor Neighbor organizes political activities such as voter registration, “meet-the-candidates” events, phone banks, mailings, and precinct walks to inform fellow union members on the election. On Election Day, Labor Neighbor coordinates get-out-the-vote drives to be sure workers get to the polls.
The Labor Council is the communications hub for all things Labor. The Council maintains an extensive database of labor and community activists. We communicate and mobilize our members and the community through E-Activist updates, blast faxes, media, and our Web site.
Strike Sanction and Bargaining Support
Local unions request strike sanction from the Labor Council. Sanction establishes formal support by the Council for a strike or other economic actions against an employer. Before granting sanction, the Council checks with other unions that may be affected to satisfy any objections and to coordinate support. The Executive Committee approves requests for sanction, although emergency sanction may be granted in between meetings by the Executive Director.
Strategies include picketline support, rallies, demonstrations, boycotts, food drives for strikers, and coordinating public officials and community support. Delegates play an important role by recruiting fellow union members to join in solidarity actions.
Helping affiliates prior to or during difficult contract negotiations is another activity the Labor Council participates in. Occasionally the Council will be asked to participate in bargaining to show broad labor support for a fair contract.
The Labor Council also offers strike support to unions outside of our jurisdiction.
Q. What is a union?
A union is a group of workers joined to protect and improve their working conditions. Unions collectively organize to gain:
- Respect on the job
- Better wages and benefits
- More flexibility for work and family needs
- A counter balance to the unchecked power of employers
- A voice in improving the quaility of their lives
The Wagner Act of 1935 was created by Congress to protect workers’ right to unionization. Unions give workers a voice on the job. Without a union, workers may be subject to exploitation and unfair labor practices.
The working conditions for Americans today is credited to the work of unions. Because of the organized labor movement, many laws were enacted to improve working conditions. Unions pushed to pass the minimum wage, the eight hour day and weekend, the creation of Social Security, and the end to child labor to name a few.
Q. How do I get involved with the SFLC?
A. You can join the labor movement in San Francisco many different ways!
Join a Union: If you do not have a union at your job, let us help you find out more on how to form one.
Volunteer or Intern at the SFLC: We are always looking for vibrant, hard working individuals committed to social justice and working families.