In November, three more rank and file Local 856 members were elected to office after each not only won their race, but were also the top vote-getters in their respective contests. In addition, Local 856 Staff Attorney Malia Vella was re-elected to the Alameda City Council. As the top vote-getter in her race, she will serve as the city’s vice mayor.
“It’s important for working families to have a seat at the table,” says Vella. “As a councilmember, I was able to support increases to the minimum wage and franchise agreements with solid waste companies who respect workers’ rights, and to fight for strong project labor agreements to ensure union work on public projects in Alameda. This has regional impacts and helps turn the tide to ensure workers’ rights are at the forefront of decision-making.”
Jovanka Beckles, a mental health specialist with Contra Costa County, was elected to the AC Transit Board. She previously served two terms on the Richmond City Council. “Politics impacts everything — where you live, how much you’re paid, what kind of contract you get,” Beckles has said about running for office. “We can no longer afford to have other people creating policies for us. We have to create the policies for ourselves.”
Newly-elected West Contra Costa Unified School District Board member Otheree Christian agrees. “Throughout this pandemic, our members have been working hard to make sure our school communities are fed and campuses are maintained,” Christian said. “I want to ensure they are given the respect they deserve.” He says that his dedication to the school district and its employees, which includes 2,000 Local 856 members, fueled his run.
Alena Maunder’s passion for helping children and racial and social justice informed her decision to run for the Sausalito-Marin City School District Board. “I’m not just fighting for my children, but for all children,” said Maunder, a nurse manager at San Francisco General Hospital. “If you want to be a change-maker, you have to make your voice heard.”