Big shoes to fill…

Greg Larkins

How do you follow a legend? Just like he would want you to… jump in with both feet! Earlier this year, the Sacramento community lost a dear friend and community leader Tom Lawson to a courageous battle with cancer. As his good friend, I thought of no better way to honor my friend, than to attempt to continue with his great work. As Tom’s co-worker at the Sacramento Central Labor Council, I had assisted Tom with various labor related projects, but I really had no idea of the enormity of the scope of Tom’s work in the Sacramento Region, promoting United Way campaign within the Labor Community, while assisting Working Families and linking them with the services of the United Way California Capital Region’s community partners.

Upon my joining the United Way team on May 16th, I immediately assisted with the Letter Carriers annual food drive, coordinating non-perishable food container collection sites at various Union Halls and Labor Centers as well as recruiting volunteers to work at the Royal Oaks Post Office Collection site. Thanks to the Letter Carriers, this year’s Food Drive produced over 316,438 pounds of food in the Sacramento Region and 70 million pounds nationally!

In June, the United Way 3rd annual LIVE UNITED Toilet Paper Drive was in full swing and I made a concentrated effort to educate our local Labor Unions as to the services the United Way provides, and the need to assist our non-profit partners when situation arises. Many Labor Unions participated in this years Toilet Paper Drive by setting up a collection center either in a Union Hall/Office or by making a financial contribution to the TP Drive. Through these two programs, Working Families were able to raise 16,594 rolls of toilet paper for our local non-profit partners. SEIU Local 1000 was this year’s top donor raising over 10,000 rolls of toilet paper!

Of course the core of a Labor Liaison’s work is to link Working Families with the services of our non-profit partners during difficult times. With the two previously mentioned campaigns underway, one of our major Labor Unions & their employer were going through a very difficult contract negotiation. I was able to work with these employees to provide information and make two ‘When The Paycheck Stops” presentations to their Executive Board/Negotiating Committee and their General Membership meeting to prepare them for a possible work stoppage. Due to the diligence of their Negotiating Committee a contract was settled on and a work stoppage was avoided.

I just feel so fortunate to work for the United Way California Capital Region in partnership with the AFL-CIO, to bring awareness to the Labor community of the United Way campaign, and to assist Working Families with the services that our non-profit community partners provide in their times of need!