Two of Southern California’s rising African-American labor leaders will be playing a prominent role at the national level for the next four years with one of the country’s largest unions.
Lakesha Harrison and Doug Moore were elected to represent California workers as international vice presidents of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. As officers of the AFSCME International Union, they will help guide national priorities of the largest union in the AFL-CIO national labor federation.
A reception honoring Moore and Harrison was held in downtown Los Angeles on September 3. Many elected officials and prominent labor leaders attended. More than a dozen local and national AFSCME leaders were part of those honoring Harrison and Moore.
“In these tough economic times, working families need strong leaders from their union to fight for them,” said Ralph Miller, president of AFSCME Local 685, the L.A. County probation officers’ union. “Lakesha Harrison and Doug Moore have the vision, passion, and energy to fight for change at the local, state, and federal levels.”
Miller noted that America is on the brink of electing its first African-American president with Barak Obama, “a leader who is proud to have been a community organizer, a leader who knows what issues workers face every day. As new national union leaders, Doug and Lakesha will join with our new president—as well as with state and local leaders—to improve the lives of working families,” Miller added.
“We are proud to see these two great African-American labor leaders recognized for their extraordinary accomplishments and their bright futures,” said Joy Brown-Price, executive director of the African American Community and Labor Leaders Alliance. “We have a new generation of African-American leaders who have already achieved major victories, but I believe are just beginning to make their mark.” At 35 years of age, Harrison is the youngest African-American international vice president in AFSCME.
Among elected officials and community leaders who attended the L.A. reception for Moore and Harrison were Eric Lee, president of the Los Angeles SCLC; Charisse Bremond-Weaver, president and CEO of Brotherhood Crusade; state Controller John Chiang; state Board of Equalization Member Judy Chu; state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas; Assemblymember Anthony Portantino; and Mike Gipson, mayor pro-tem of the city of Carson.
Lakesha Harrison also serves as president of AFSCME Local 3299, representing 20,000 workers at the University of California’s 10 campuses and five medical centers. Harrison is a licensed vocational nurse with Santa Monica Hospital, affiliated with UCLA.
Under Harrison’s leadership, Local 3299 has increased its membership seven-fold and worked to achieve pay equity. UC workers represented by Harrison are currently fighting to improve lagging wages at UCLA and other campuses, a struggle that led to a short strike earlier this year.
Doug Moore is executive director of the United Domestic Workers of America, which represents home care workers in 11 California counties, including Orange, San Diego and Riverside. Thanks to Moore’s leadership, more than 25,000 home care providers have joined UDW in less than four years under his watch. UDW is now AFSCME’s largest affiliate west of the Mississippi, with 60,000 members statewide. With their new strength in numbers, Moore and UDW are working to improve home care worker wages, which have languished just above minimum wage in many counties.