Champions For Our Community: Fred Simon

Fred Simon, a Registered Professional Civil Engineer, is a Senior Engineer with the Contra Costa Water District and has been a proud member of Local 21 for 23 years. Fred’s sense of public service led him to successfully seek two elected offices. 

With the backing and support of Local 21, in 2018, he was elected as a member of the Oro Loma Sanitary District Board. Fred’s current focus with Oro Loma is to set policy to ensure clean water resources along with enhancing residential and commercial recycling. Fred’s continuous sense of responsibility to his community resulted in a decision in 2020 to campaign for a position on San Leandro City Council. Once again, with the backing and support of Local 21, Fred’s campaign to represent the people was successful.

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Fred has been a proud resident and homeowner in San Leandro since 1996 where he and his wife enjoy their family life with two growing sons. Fred’s key priorities include investing in community equity and quality of life, bringing in new housing and businesses, fighting climate change, police reform, and beautifying San Leandro.

During Fred’s 23 years as an IFPTE Local 21 member, there have been memorable experiences that have left important lifelong impressions.

He recalls how back in the late 1990s, Local 21 members attended the Contra Costa Water District Board meetings in a united and professional demonstration. “Union reps taught me a lot. Together, we stood up for what was right and succeeded.” Fred would take lessons from organizing with his union siblings into his community activism for environmental and social justice.

A key turning point in Fred’s history with IFPTE Local 21 came when he experienced an injustice as a Senior Engineer with the Contra Costa Water District in 2017.  With Local 21’s support and resources, Fred was able to overcome inequities and prevail in demonstrating his skills as an Engineer. “It was a victory for me as well as for those union members that may find themselves forced into an unwarranted similar situation in the future. All of this was possible because of the support and encouragement of Local 21, my family and friends.”

Fred encourages Local 21 members to be involved in our union. “It is so powerful for us to work together. I’ve seen it from our victories against injustices. It was a team effort. Our union reps are great, however combining that with the insight of our members is powerful. It is time invested, it’s an investment in our future.”

Beyond workplace issues, Fred is a strong believer in the powerful role unions can play in broader social and environmental justice for our communities. “We’re killing our planet with pollution. We have to work together to solve bigger picture problems. We as union members know how to work together and present our cases in a well-thought-out manner to accomplish our goals. More Local 21 and other union members should run for elected office.”

Social justice is what motivated Fred to run for City Council earlier in his career than planned. “I ran in 2020, earlier than expected, because of the George Floyd and Steven Taylor killings; Steven Taylor just two miles from my home and one month before George Floyd. I was motivated to jump into the campaign to help with police reform. We need to shift resources to mental health services, drug addiction services and specialists who can handle these situations. If that were in place, Steven Taylor could be alive today.  We need to reallocate resources.”

When IFPTE Local 21 started campaigning for the revenue-generating Measure VV, Fred dove right into phone banking for it. “If Local 21 members didn’t phone bank, it may not have passed. It’s tough to pass a new measure during a pandemic, and it won.” 

Measure VV increased property transfer tax from $6 to $11 per $1,000 of the purchase price, generating an estimated $4,000,000 per year for city services including street repair, COVID-19 economic recovery, emergency response and youth violence prevention programs. “It’s a huge help to San Leandro. It will bring in much needed revenue. We are going to need more measures like this. We have to pay for our infrastructure, our city services, health services and services to help the homeless. We have to find creative ways to fund city infrastructure improvements and services, and right now they are not being properly funded.”