Happy Labor Day from OCEA

Dear OCEA member,

As we gather with our families and friends this year to celebrate Labor Day, I hope you will take a moment to celebrate yourself. These past few years in the pandemic have redefined our lives in many ways, but through it all your dedication and service to the County, Cities, Districts–and most importantly, the communities–which you serve is unparalleled.

Your work is the definition of essential because the work you do keeps our society functioning in almost every way. OCEA members are the public health nurses and social workers on the front lines of the pandemic; the dispatchers connecting us to help; the clerical staff that keeps agencies operating; the maintenance workers preserving our infrastructure; and so much more.

As a union member, you are part of a small but mighty force of American workers–currently just over 10% of the working population–who have organized under the banner of Labor to ensure better pay, workplace conditions, benefits and more. And, while the number of union members in our country has declined over decades due to the union-busting obstruction of corporatists, lobbyists and politicians, I am proud to say support for labor unions is at a 57-year high, according to a recent NPR article.

Fifty-seven years ago, in 1965, union members were on the front lines of the civil rights movement across the South and the fight to ensure social equity for farmworkers led by Cesar Chavez and Delores Huerta in California. In 2022–largely driven by record corporate profits contrasted with low worker pay, poor benefits and a lack of workplace safety exacerbated by the pandemic–the spark to organize has been lit in a way never seen before at behemoths including Amazon, Starbucks and Chipotle.

We celebrate on Labor Day because their work in the past is still our work to do: to Educate, Organize and Mobilize. It is a privilege to carry the values of our movement forward in honor of the sacrifices made by those whose shoulders we stand upon now; some of whom died at protests and strikes for our right to exist as we do today.

We are a part of that future, and the future is union strong. Nationally, we stand together with workers across industries and professions for the benefit of the entire working class. Locally, our mission and values permeate communities as we work to ensure security for our members–especially as the Fall election season nears.

It is a true blessing that my work allows me to represent all of you as your General Manager. Today, on Labor Day, I will celebrate that.

In Solidarity,

Charles Barfield
OCEA General Manager


P.S. Now is the time to GET INVOLVED IN OCEA! If you would like to become active in your union, please click here.

Publication Date: September 5, 2022