Oakland Lunch & Learns: Oakland Members Empower Themselves Over Brown Bag Lunches

The Oakland Contract Action Team (CAT) has been working to bring education to Oakland workplaces with a series of Bring Your Own Lunch workshops.

The first workshops kicked off in June with a topic CAT members thought was an important starting point: All About Our Union.

These workshops, put together and presented by Roberto Costa, Cookie Robles-Wong and Oakland VP Renee Sykes, focused not only on the basics of Local 21, but also touched on other important fundamentals such as how our Political Action Committee (PAC) works and the basics of Just Cause.

For members that could not attend the workshop, a booklet of information was created from this workshop.

Feedback about the lunch and learns has been great, and more workshops are being planned for the future. Robert Kennedy,a member in the Public Works’ Parks and Tree Division, was moved to share the impact Local 21 has made in his life after watching our “What Has The Union Ever Done for Me” video during our Lunch and Learn. “The Union has drastically improved my standard of living because it helps to safeguard my family when it comes to healthcare,” said Kennedy. “Working in the private sector, my employer was only able to provide health care benefits to me and not my extended family. So that meant my wife and my newborn child were not afforded benefits.”

Kennedy went on to explain that vacation days and wage increases, things our Union has secured for us in Oakland, were hard to come by in his private sector job and really demonstrated the difference Local 21 makes in the lives of our members and their families.

“There is a saying in Spanish that is part of me and translates to, ‘If you know it, teach it.  If you don’t, learn it,” said Robles-Wong, one of the presenters at the workshop. “I volunteered for this first session because as a woman, a mother of two daughters and a person of color – discrimination and injustice never take a vacation. The sooner we learn, the sooner we can share information and become aware of our capabilities.”