Nov. 12, 2020

Liz Ortega Toro

Liz Ortega Toro

In this episode of Unionist, I talk to Liz Ortega Toro Elizabeth Ortega-Toro
Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council. Liz talks about some of the issues facing Labor in Alameda County and the path she took to get to the ALC....


In this episode of Unionist, I talk to Liz Ortega Toro Elizabeth Ortega-Toro
Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council. Liz talks about some of the issues facing Labor in Alameda County and the path she took to get to the ALC.

Episode Drops:

Alameda Labor Council 7750 Pardee Lane, Suite 110 Oakland, CA 94621 https://alamedalabor.org/

Unionist is hosted by Phil Ybarrolaza in Oakland, CA.
This episode was recorded at the Alameda Labor Council 7750 Pardee Lane Oakland CA 94621.
Unionist is a proud member of the Podifornia (podifornia.com) podcast network.

Transcript

Liz Ortega Toro

Phil: ms. Ortega. Yeah. 

Liz: Now you can add that to our Lazio. Finally listened to it. Yeah. 

Phil: So Liz would take a Toro. Right. Alameda labor council was just central 

Liz: Alameda, federal labor council.

Phil: welcome to the union as podcasts. I know the music just fades out. Are you done with the election? Are you over it? 

Liz: No. 

Phil: You've been working your ass off for hours. Yeah. How long ago? 

Liz: And I mean my whole life, but, I've been the secretary treasurer for almost three years. and then just working on this election from last year, 

Phil: I mean, yeah.

Right. And then we have that nice definitive result. Yeah. I mean, what did, what were some of the big issues around here in Alameda? 

Liz: There was a number particularly, There was a number of issues. Obviously we had prop 22 on the ballot, prop 15, you know, and a lot of the other counties kind of look on the Bay area to bring those home when they're super close.

so there's definitely pressure on them. yeah, well, 15 was the taxing, the rich, so 

Phil: a minor fixed a prop 13 if I remember, right? Yeah, yeah. Correct. Oh God, we need that. 

Liz: Yeah. So those two were pretty intense. And then just, you know, we represent, the there's 135,000 workers in Alameda County. I can't remember the number, exact number of cities, but a lot of the cities.

Look at Oakland as kind of the model being the biggest city. Right. so I always have to keep my eye on Oakland and make sure that, you know, whatever happens there. Yeah, exactly. I got to take care of the town and make sure that other cities either do the right thing. in model after the town or don't do that, right?

Well, you're talking to, 

Phil: you know, Rudy and I guess is Jack Buckhorn up North now? 

Liz: Yeah. Yes. 

Phil: You guys all coordinate too, right? 

Liz: So the Bay area councils, I think, I think that's been different and interesting that we're actually all working together. , South San Francisco, San Mateo. 

Phil: Yeah. It's hard.  I was, , involved in the golden gate bridge once or twice.

And just you get these coalitions, which is the world you live in because how many, how many unions are in 

Liz: 135 

Phil: in the Alameda labor council? There's 135 different unions. That I'll have delegates. Yeah. Sweet Jesus. Yeah. That keeps you busy. Yes. Yeah. Cause just trying to get like at, at the golden gate bridge, trying to get the coalition, which I think was 12 or 15 unions to try to agree on anything was a challenge.

Liz: Yes, it's definitely a challenge. And I think one of the things I'm most proud of just coming out of this election is that we were able to really unify ourselves around some key races and come together and win. And in the races where we didn't agree so much, we weren't openly attacking one another, right?

Yeah, we were, we were very. Purposely said, okay, we're going to agree to disagree and not make a huge deal out of it and not outspend each other across, you know, outspend resources that could go elsewhere. We 

Phil: kept them. 

Liz: Yeah. So we stayed focused, on the places that we could win together. And those where we could have, we just, you know, kind of kept those out of the limelight.

Phil: So what was the biggest one? This cycle? 

Liz: I would have to say, there's two big wins. , so again, , an Oakland, , we early on, , voted as a labor council to not endorse a candidate, an incumbent who had been on the council for eight years and without even having. Another candidate against, yeah. We didn't have an identified candidate.

Phil: Somebody. 

Liz: Yeah. We, you know, 

Phil: they must've heard, 

Liz: they earned it. I mean, it's very rare. And I said this from the beginning. it's very rare where I have a candidate. There's just not, it's not just bad, but hurtful to working families across the board. Right? Public private fire building trades SEI. You tend to one, I mean, all of us, when I was looking at the chart and looking at the names, there was one name that just kept popping up as being hurtful to working families in Alameda County.

And. I came back to the executive board. I said, we need to send a message. We can not be a union town and allow another four years of this. 

Phil: Some hostile person. Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Liz: And we did, we, they took a vote and we did a no endorsement. Before we even have it, a candidate against this person. So we did like, I like literally put ourselves out 

Phil: there.

It's awesome. 

Liz: yeah. 

Phil: Did,  we  endorsed this person  in past election? 

Liz: Yes, it has selections and, Yeah. And, you know, but this time it was, you know, it was very, it was very public. it wasn't something that we did and then just, you know, put it in the shelf to see if we could come up with a strategy.

It was, I mean, the strategy was to be very public. So we stayed United, and send a strong message. And, even though, even to those established, you know, candidates, other candidates who are watching and just, I wanted to really just make a Mark and say, You know, labor is in Alameda County, we're strong and we're not going 

Phil: to union.

Liz: It's a union town and we're not gonna allow, you know, elected officials to continue this anti-union rhetoric and vote, to hurt our, our families. 

Phil: So that's one. 

Liz: Two 

Phil: two, 

Liz: two. Why was three? 

Phil: Don't be, don't be modest. 

Liz: I won't be mad is, the  second one was, I would say council member, Rebecca Kaplan, again in Oakland, you know, midway through the campaign.

We had, a candidate who started to get a lot of money from Uber and Lyft. 

Phil: Prop 22. Yeah. Yeah. They sprinkle a lot of money around 

Liz: and we hadn't really seen that statewide, Uber and Lyft coming in that much for a local or, well, if I 

Phil: remember Uber's Oakland based, are they not 

Liz: Uber? I thought they were San Francisco.

I'm not sure, but yeah, so they, yes. so they definitely had an interest in, making sure that the incumbent didn't win. And, put up a candidate, did an independent expenditure, put thousands of dollars that we were not expecting. and so we had to go on the defense pretty quickly and we went 

Phil: nice.

Nice. So, I mean, and it's been a lot of phone banking. And so what does winning entailed usually typically for a laborer, 

Liz: you know, this year is different obviously. 

Phil: Cause all your secrets. 

Liz: Okay. I mean, for the pandemic, it's been different because of the pandemic, obviously, that we took a big hit, 

Phil: cause that's, that's the big advantage is, you know, manpower.

Liz: Exactly. Yeah. But you know, our members are so dedicated and so. You know, they're used to the fight there used to be. Yeah. They're used to being out there and fighting a lot of the members that I represent didn't have the luxury of working from home. You know, they were essential workers. Right. And so when it came to, you know, doing what we always do, they were ready to go.

We were on the streets. We were doing lit drops. we had a five day strike in the middle of it. 

Phil: Oh, that was, 

Liz: Alameda health 

Phil: right at Highland hospital. Or was it other Alameda health properties, 

Liz: Alameda health price. So it was Highland hospital, 70 Sandro hospital, Alameda and jarred Joe, John, George.

Wow. , so it was definitely 

Phil: different to the front burner. Right. So everything else. It gets parked until you deal with that labor action. And then 

Liz: now we got to do it simultaneous 

Phil: simultaneously. You must have a good, 

Liz: I do. I do. I have a great team. I mean, that's the other thing.

You gotta be able to put a good team together, right. And trust that they, they, they care and they, love the work as much as you do and that you trust them to do what they gotta do 

Phil: crazy. So you're going on three years now, to go from. You know, a midterm election in 2018 and then like right to the big time when there's a lot of stake.

I mean, 2020 has been crazy.  you kind of just getting your feet under you now. I mean, it takes time, right? Just to kind of know where the bathrooms are and who does what, and, you know, who's in charge of wet and, and of course in the labor community, there's always kind of,

people are sensitive about other people and that just, you know, pers a lot of personal dynamics and it's crazy. 

Liz: Yes. 

Phil: Yes. So that's two that's two, two wins. 

Liz: third, I would say, you know, Malia Vella and Alameda. 

Phil: Yeah. Malia Vella. Yeah. I got a good Malia story too. 

Liz: Yeah. She's I mean, she's been attacked, more than any other candidate we've had in a while.

So 

Phil: she was vice mayor Valley. Right. And was she. Running to keep her position. 

Liz: Yeah. And, you know, she's, we have this joke that she's one of the most recalled council person attempted, attempted to be recalled. Yeah. so that's another big win. 

Phil: yeah. Years, years ago I was phone banking, on several different issues and.

I CA I ha I was just, you know, calling people off the list and I'd called them and got a message machine. And I went on and on, on this message machine I normally is. She's great. You know, she needs your help. And, and then it turned out to be somebody I want to say it was like her. Boyfriend or fiance or whatever it was.

So, you know, I scored a couple of points there with the vice mayor Alameda, and I've worked with Malia for gosh, 10 years. 

Liz: So yeah, it's good to have another team, you know, a teamster and a woman of color and now a mother. 

Phil: Yeah, no, I know. And she's doing it all and she's, and that's been about a year and a half, right.

Oh good for her, which is, you know, the handicap women have to deal with. 

Liz: Yes. yeah, that's the other thing that's been on my mind is just, well, 

Phil: I say handicapped, but this, you know, or it's not even disadvantaged, isn't the right word, but it's, you know, being a woman in the workplace, it's not as easy as it is being a guy.

I mean, 

Liz: You know, yeah. 

Phil: Raising kids and everybody assumes that your, you know, your primary functions, aren't, you know, aren't working and being involved in the workplace that you're just mothers and. 

Liz: Yeah, it's hard as a mother of four. I have four kids. 

Phil: Yes. Wow. Yes. How old are they? 

Liz: They're who now you're going to test.

Phil: I've got a 10 year old and a seven year old. 

Liz: Okay. Now minor 24, 23, 22. And one who's going to be 14. 

Phil: Wow. Yeah. And, you know, distance learning is fun, isn't 

Liz: it? Yes. We've gotten, I got an, a lot of spending a lot of time for. So with my daughter and, it's been interesting for sure. Yeah. You know, we've always, I've always had major respect for teachers, but this kind of put it over the edge.

Phil: Oh, I know it's so, and I get to listen to our kids, distance learning every once in a while. And it's, you know, they're better at zoom than I am. And, you know, I don't know. I would imagine like everybody else you've been zooming a lot and, Yeah, just the, but the things that the teachers have to put up with now, like the they're like stop snacking and don't pet the dog and you know, and on top of that run the class.

Liz: Yeah. Yeah. It's crazy. 

Phil: And then they have their own kids too are doing the same thing in their house. 

Liz: Oh yeah. Vaccine kick out here soon enough 

Phil: for kids. So you good? You must've started young. 

Liz: Yes. I had my first son when I was 18. 

Phil: Oh, nice. My mom was that way. Although she was much older when she had me, but my oldest brother, she was 18.

Yeah. And she always said that it was cool because it was like they got to grow up together in a way, 

Liz: you know, Yeah, my oldest definitely. you know, he's been phone banking and precinct since he was born. So still he was here last week, helping me out. 

Phil: Well, how did you, where did you come from? How did you get involved in all this 

Liz: stuff?

Yeah, so, I was. You know, I, my parents brought me to the United States when I was three years old. we have a very, similar immigrant story than a minute. you know, a lot of folks have, my dad came first and then my mom, you know, was back home with me and my little brother, Mexico. Yeah. Near . And she got tired of waiting on my dad to like, Bring her.

So one day she, if you ever wonder why I am the way, so she got tired of waiting on my dad. So she decided that she was going to come here and she hired  and she got brought across the border by herself with me and my little brother who was six months old at the time and got to San Diego and called my dad and said, Hey, I'm here.

Come get me. 

Phil: I had good for her. 

Liz: And my dad was like, what? I already established himself here in Oakland. So this is where he came. So I've been here my whole life. went 

Phil: East Bay, born and bred 

Liz: and born, well, not born, 

Phil: but might as well 

Liz: might as well be. Yeah. yeah. 

Phil: Your school years, all that stuff. 

Liz: Yep. I went to school here, grew up here, grew up in the Fruitvale district and then my dad was able to buy our first home right down the street on 71st and East 14th.

Wow. 

Phil: Yeah, that's a fun neighborhood.

Liz: Yeah. That's so that's where I grew up 71st and East 14th. 

Phil: So as far as the labor room, it goes, did you get a job? Were you a union member? 

Liz: No. So it's funny. I, so I got here doing, 

Phil: you know, yeah, 

Liz: yeah. I mean, I was always. You know, again, I'm very typical with immigrant families. I was the oldest, learn to speak English really early.

And so my parents kind of took me everywhere, to translate for them. so I was super tiny and like going to doctor's visits, you know, in job interviews, I, back then it was, you know, what's it called? the immigration center, to fill out their paperwork. Was it ins ins, you know, so we got our 

Phil: after that happened, 

Liz: but that was in the eighties.

Cause I was like, 

Phil: I don't ever remember ice. 

Liz: Yeah. It was in the eighties. when president Reagan passed amnesty, my parents were able to get permanent residency and so I was able to get it. And my brother, 

Phil: Oh, that's ironic and good though. I mean, that's back when politicians used to work together 

Liz: too.

Yeah, exactly. So we, I remember going, being in line at the ins office at five in the morning and, you know, not just filling out our paperwork, but like helping all the other families. and you know, from there, I remember one story, when I was about nine or 10 and I got so good at it that my mom recognized how good I was at it.

Then she started volunteering me for stuff me out. I would come home from school. Good. That'd be like total strangers there. And my mom would be like, Oh, I met so-and-so on the bus. She needs help with her papers. And I told her, you could do it like, mom, can I have a CDOT? I was a kid. I was like, I just want to play out.

Do I really have to sit here now or do this? but you know, that's all part of like, you know, I, of course I'm very grateful for it now. when I was in high school, you know, prop one 87 came out, 

Phil: Pete Wilson. yeah, 

Liz: that was also kind of like, and I had already been like a, you know, a pretty out.

Kid. I was in class, always asking questions and 

Phil: that motherfucker had the nerve. I'm going to say it had the nerve to like pop his head back up this election cycle too. 

Liz: Yeah, I know. Right. It's like, fuck. So, yeah. So that's how I got started. I, Aye prop one 87. I was in high school and you know, I remember my teachers, I had a history teacher who was supporting him and yeah, 

Phil: like openly, openly, 

Liz: like, you know, your parents illegal, like you don't belong here.

All this rhetoric that we are hearing today was very. Like outward in my high school, in Oakland. And that kinda got me really connected to like a lot of different community organizations in their area. We did a bunch of youth, you know, pickets and strikes and, that's kind of how I got connected. and then I, I got a job right out of high school, working as a community organizer.

and, Then I got pregnant. I was going to Laney and then I got pregnant with my son and I kept doing the community organizing work. And then I got pregnant with my second son, and he had a lot of health issues when he was born at asthma allergies 

Phil: or raise my hand. And I dealt with a lot of that 

Liz: too.

And being a community organizer, I didn't have health insurance, and, you know, it was. And through that I 

Phil: grew up fast then. 

Liz: Yeah. 

Phil: I mean, there was no like partying days and just cruising, having fun. No. 

Liz: Yeah, yeah. But I do it now. 

Phil: I'm sorry. I interrupted you. So Laney, 

Liz: Laney kids. and then I met an SEU that, an SEU, organizer who knew me when I was a kid and she called me and she's like, what are you doing?

And I was like, Oh, you know, I'm here doing, organizing. She's like, come work for me at SCU. And I was like, no, I'm good. You know, I like what I'm doing. And she said, well, yeah, I have health insurance. And I was like, okay. Wow. So I went to work for Astia U U H w a. It used to be local two 50 a and I was their receptionist for about six months and then got promoted to, and 

Phil: of course they were probably using you everywhere at the time.

Liz: Right? Yeah. And so then I became, I was, Education trainer. And then I just kind of, by the time I left there, I was there, assistant director of education and nursing home division. so, and I was there for 10 years. 

Phil: So the nursing hub division that's been interesting time too. 

Liz: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean again, 

Phil: we'll have to talk about that one off, but I'm just kind of curious how that ended up, because I was up in, I was up just on the nursing home part.

I was up in the North Bay around the time. And then that was when, you know, there was the splinter group and they were trying to form the new union and unaffiliated. So, but you've been, so you've been going basically in the hard fight your whole life. 

Liz: Yes. Yeah, 

Phil: so it starts, so basically you started with immigrant rights and then moved on to labor, which obviously kind of go hand in hand.

Liz: Yeah. Yeah. And then I just, I've been in labor ever since man. 

Phil: So, how did you end up here and here being the Alameda? 

Liz: So I, after the UAW kind of that local two 50 HW breakup or right pull, I took a little break. you know, and then, there was an opening here. 

Phil: Yeah. You deserved a break . Raising kids working community 

Liz: at that point too.

So I really wanted to spend time with her. Oh man. I took a break and then, there was an opening here for community services director here at the Alameda labor council. I applied for that and got it. and then about a year later I got promoted to political director, 

Phil: moving on up 

Liz: and yeah, and then I went to work for AFS me.

As their political slash you know, lobbyists, which I had no idea what, what I was doing or what that even was 

  so I was with them for five years. I worked mostly in the Capitol. so 

Phil: yeah, Sacramento. 

Liz: Yeah, I was in Sacramento. They told me it was very little travel, you know, once in a while. And then I ended up being up there. 

Phil: Yeah, no kidding. That's where all the action's at 

Liz: exactly.

I loved it. 

Phil: I, the capital's kind of cool. 

Liz: Yeah. I mean, it was very, thrilling and interesting to watch and like, you know, the stories I've heard about how, you know, working families really get fucked in the middle of the night if you're not there. yeah. Yeah. It was very real. Was very real. And I definitely had days where I didn't want to be there.

Phil: And this was in the two thousands, right? 

Liz: Yeah. About five, seven years ago now. Eight years ago. Yeah. Yeah. It's very, you know, very, very white male dominated environment. 

Phil: Speaking, speaking of which that's this whole Trump thing right now, so weird. Yeah. It's like the old white men. And then they seem to find a lot of massage dentist, you know, people of color to who are, you know, probably more into, male dominance than they are into, you know, helping their own people.

I don't know. 

Liz: Yeah. I mean, and 

Phil: it's easy for me to say, like 

Liz: I gotta be, I mean, it's even, you know, it's even within a labor, like we got to look at ourselves 

Phil: to steel, male, and pale. 

Liz: I've walked into rooms where I'm literally the only, 

Phil: but that's good though. I mean, it's not good, but it's, you're in there breaking it down, you know?

Liz: And that's what I hope, I least  

Phil: so what's, what's next for the ALC? I mean the, so the election's over now, now what's on the radar. I mean, have they as Alameda health settled that thing 

Liz: up or, well, okay.

Let me take that step back. Oh, no, we were there. Okay. 

Phil: But they're on track now. 

Liz: Track now hopefully knock on wood. but when another big win in the middle of all of this, 

Phil: all of this. crazy elections, 

Liz: crazy elections. we, were able to win a victory where the Alameda board of supervisors finally recognize that their trustees who had been appointed by them were anti-union and were forcing us to strike.

And at Alameda health and after two years, And a five day strike. They finally took a vote to fire them. 

Phil: Oh, so they got rid of the trustees who were appointed. Yes. Nice. Well that's so that's, that can be everything. You just get some of those personalities out of the room that people dig in on principle.

Yes. Yeah. Principals tough to negotiate against, correct. Oh, good. So yeah, so I take it, they're taking a more cooperative stance. 

Liz: Yeah, definitely. 

Phil: Oh, that'll be a big one over there. Yeah. I've had a little bit of dealing with Alameda health and I can't say that they were particularly labor friendly. 

Liz: No, I mean, they were very anti-union.

Phil: Yeah, I didn't want it. 

Liz: Well, I'll say it. I said it, I said it at the public, you know, board of supervisors and you know, one of the trustees said, you know, who, who are you? And this is, 

Phil: I'm a trustee, how dare you speak? Yeah. 

Liz: And like, who are you? And, you know, I'm surprised and appalled and you know, this is shocking to me that you guys are going on strike during the pandemic.

And it was just like, you know, really? 

Phil: No, I know. And especially, I mean, It always ends up. Patient care, always ends up with the, with the people, closest to the patients, having to fight for patient care, whether it's the number of, you know, patients, nurses see, or, I mean, we've seen this over and over again and labor for the last 30 years, 

Liz: quality has always been there and it just gets, highlighted during a pandemic and all these people who have.

Been pretending that it's not, they're 

Phil: actually essential workers for sure. Yeah. 

Liz: And they actually have to look at it. Right. You have to see it every day. And then it becomes a thing and uncomfortable and then becomes a chart and a statistic that we've always known because they fight for this stuff.

Phil: Right, right. 

Liz: Right. All of a sudden they, they are forced to see it themselves. Oh, good. 

Phil: I'm so glad, you know, because I mean, especially now healthcare workers, you cannot say enough about what they're doing and the things they have to deal with during the pandemic. It's crazy. And then fingers crossed on the vaccine, let them start first.

Liz: Yeah. And they're serving our lowest, you know, most vulnerable communities. 

Phil: So funny, the whole essential worker thing that, I mean, how. You really find out who matters it's, you know, during the pandemic, because now everybody's concerned about having their power on and having food to eat and, you know, Stockbrokers don't seem so fucking important anymore.

Right. 

Liz: Or workers, right. 

Phil: Delivery guys. And we need the stocking guys and the warehouse guys and the trucking guys. And 

Liz: now they're all heroes. 

Phil: Yeah. They're heroes. Oh my God. I forgot who I was listening to. And they said, you know, when they start calling you a hero, like get nervous. Cause they're, they're about to throw you into the fire.

Exactly. Yeah. And, and that's why hazard pay has been such a big issue. I'm trying to get anybody hazard pay, you know, 

Liz: paid sick leave 

Phil: paid. Oh, I know. I know. And then on top of that, they have to deal with their kids, you know, distance learning and on and on and on welcome 2020. That's why I'm so excited with the, with Joe Biden now being president elect and taking the pandemic seriously, it's like, we can deal with this thing and move on, you know, and at least start heading towards the new normal instead of just pretending it's not happening.

Liz: Yeah. I agree, but we can't let her, we can't get our, what is it called our foot off the, 

Phil: Oh, I know. And that, George is going to be tough, man. Yeah. 

Liz: I'll 

Phil: teach them a racism. 

Liz: Yeah. We have to win that, Georgia. 

Phil: What did you, when did you do election day? Cause I was hoping I I'll be honest. I raised my hand. I was hoping for, you know, kind of a wipe out and And man, the Republicans, you know, they, their GOTB was great.

Yeah, you have to admit it. and, and it was really kind of discouraged. 

Liz: I mean, I guess I wasn't expecting a wipe out, you know, as a woman of color and having experienced all these. Just racist and sexist that are now openly, like given the authority to be out 

Phil: there, the things that people can say now in public.

Right. I mean, where was he used to be? People would be ashamed to use racial slurs and to even be thought of as, you know, being a racist. And now it's like, ah, they're, they're, they're running free. 

Liz: Yeah. 

Phil: And the scary thing was, and this is one thing that dawned on me and of course I'm a white male, so it takes me awhile.

But on election night is I always knew because I think personally, I think Trump's appeal has always been racism. I think make America great. Again means make America white and male and, you know, and 1950s again, right in white male dominated world. And so, you know, it's, it's ambiguous enough to where, you know, some people can take, take it different ways, but if your, you know, if you're a white nationalist, right.

It, I mean, it hits you right between the eyes of, yes, let's make America great. Again, let's make it white again. and what dawned on me, you know, cause the election was so close as just because it's always been kind of the closet. Person that may not even realize that they're racist or that they're, or that they have a bias and they're voting going, you know, you know, I like what he's saying, but it was, I mean, we're all disappointed on just how racist, you know, America is, and I'm, and I'm thinking of that.

Did you see that Saturday night live skit from 2016, the election night, one 

Liz: where they were 

Phil: where all the, all the, all the way, all the way people were like, Oh my God, I can't believe people are voting for Trump. And then you got Chris rock and, 

Liz: and, and they're like, yeah, that's how I've been feeling.

Right. 

Phil: Yeah. I'm just shocked though, just at how. Racist people are. Yeah. 

Liz: I mean, it's funny cause we're in the Bay area. Right? So it's somewhere in the, like the safe bubble. 

Phil: Right. But we're not. 

Liz: Yeah. 

Phil: Yeah. 

Liz: I mean, I see it every day, that election cycle, just with our own precinct lockers, right. If I send a precinct locker, an African-American or Latino precinct Walker to Dublin or Livermore or Alameda, I know that they're going to get the police called on them.

And nine times out of 10. That's exactly what happens. So none of 

Phil: this is, 

Liz: this is the Bay area 

Phil: for crying out. Yup. 

  What are you going to do?

What's Liz going to do without in an election to like take up 24 hours. 

Liz: I keep up fighting, fighting with them, you know, bosses and, these corporate interests that are still there regardless of an election or not, you know, 

Phil: what do you think? So. Sec is executive secretary treasurer of Alameda labor council.

What do you think is the biggest labor challenge in Alameda? Right now? 

Liz: I would say that pandemic is still a huge 

Phil: challenge, 

Liz: right? we have a lot of. You know, the paid sick leave that I talked about. you know, we were able to get it in Oakland. It's going to expire, rental. 

Phil: So measure FF is going to expire.

Liz: Yeah. I mean, they, I wasn't measuring FF. We pay, it was an emergency ordinance. It wasn't. so it was an emergency 

Phil: ordinance hitchhiked. The minimum wage part, 

Liz: no emergency ordinance that we passed, because of the, 

Phil: Oh, right. The additional sick leave, right? 

Liz: Yeah. So, I mean, cause you know, it's like, again, you don't know if you're going to get the pandemic or, I mean, sorry, you don't know if you're going to get COVID right.

But you know, you got to pay the bills and you know, you gotta feed your kids. So 

Phil: do 

Liz: I stay home? If I feel sick or do I go to work? I'm 

Phil: going to go to, well, you know what people are going to do, they're going to go to work, especially they don't have paid sick leave. 

Liz: So I think those are, that's going to be another, you know, an ongoing fight, just continue the economic recovery, for our folks.

Cause we're always, the ones left behind when Uber and Lyft, stocks plummet. 

Phil: Right. 22 is the final tally out. I mean, I, Uber and Lyft prevailed on that one, right? Yeah. I mean, the thing that drove me so insane having to watch that whole 22 campaign is that they, they, you know, Uber and Lyft painted labor as being anti ride share, which is, could not be further from the truth.

It's like we love ride, share, ride, share your, you know, your eyes out. just treat people fairly. It was about fairness for people and not anti rideshare. 

Liz: Yeah, 

Phil: mothers against drunk driving. Give me a break. I mean, they're good organization. They got to on that so bad. Yeah. All right, Liz. Well, anything else?

Anything else happening happening for Liz? 

Liz: No, I just want to keep fighting. It feels good to fight and win. 

Phil: Yeah, it does. Well, thanks for sitting down. 

Liz: Thank you for having me. 

  Hey, this is Phil. I really want to thank you for listening to this episode of the unionist. Big thanks to Liz, or take a Toro, the executive secretary treasurer of the Alameda labor council for sitting down and talking to us. Uh, please, if you could rate us or give us a review in any  app or social media that you can, and until next time, stick together, hang separately.

People

Liz Ortega Toro Profile Photo

Liz Ortega Toro

Elizabeth Ortega-Toro is currently the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council. Liz has over 20 years of experience working with labor unions and community organizations to advance economic opportunity, social justice, and immigrants’ rights. She is also the first Latina to be elected Executive Secretary-Treasurer in the history of the council.
Liz oversees the Labor Council’s program that helps to empower union members working in a broad range of jobs across the public and private sectors. Prior to coming to the Labor Council, Liz Ortega was the Statewide Political Director for AFSCME Local 3299, the University of California’s largest employee union. As a political director, she won the passage of important legislation to prevent contracting out of service jobs at UC.
Previously Liz was a member of the Alameda County Workforce Investment Board.