DW: Yeah, I have
met many of the SEIU local 250 staff people through Ellen's efforts as a
worker organizer for them at Mercy hospital. From local 250's president
Sal Roselli to their site organizers, everyone appears to be active unionists,
enthusiastic unionists. In contrast, many of our CSEA staff appear to be
8 to 5 career office workers.
I am interested in why a person becomes an activist. Sometimes it is easily
seen, activist parents, activist family or friends, or maybe continuing
activism begun in college. What do you imagine spurred you to become a union
activist rather than adopting a more casual interest in union affairs?
EP: I have
no activist background at all.
Maybe I should take that back as both my parents were teachers back in
the Philippines before we moved here. I guess you can call teaching a
form of activism.
Now they are both union members, my dad is with the operating engineers,
and my mom is with the ILWU, she works at the Port of Oakland. But they
are not really union "activists". So I don't think my activism
came from my parents.
I think I became active in our union through talking to different people,
talking to Jim, talking to Romer, and my background from working in Johan's
office. I knew what organizing was, and I knew labor was flexing its muscles.
I always tell people that Jim and Cathy were very instrumental in getting
me involved in CSEA- For two reasons, one it became evident very early
on that they were not in it for themselves, and two, by how hard they
worked. They arrive very early in the morning and are among the last to
leave at night.
There is a big difference when they are compared to Perry Kenny, Steve
Alari and a few staff members. You hardly ever see them at our events
DW: I agree
about Jim and Cathy. They exhibit what I think of as a missionary zeal
toward our union. They have devoted their lives to service so are always
on-the-job. Its like we the members are their family.
EP: When Cathy
ran for the Sacramento City Council, we were looking at the bios for her
and Ray Tretheway (her opponent). That issue about family came up, Ray
had a wife, 2 kids, and I think a dog.
Cathy said, 'Well I really have no family to speak of except the union.'
We kinda laughed but it was so true, her life is the union.
One of the reasons I am really driven in a lot of this stuff is when you
compare what they have done and what they have gone through, what I do
appears small in comparison.