Opening up to a world of possibilities
Monterey County member steps up to become honored activist
When Jose Eric Alcaraz joined Local 1000, he got more than workplace representation; he discovered a conduit to the larger community issues he had wanted to be involved with all his life. “It’s the outlet I needed,” Alcaraz said.
A lifelong resident of Monterey County who works as an Office Technician at the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) in Soledad, Alcaraz joined the union immediately after becoming a state worker in 2007. He began steward training shortly thereafter. Alcaraz had more to give to his fellow employees so he also serves as a District Bargaining Unit Representative (DBUR) for DLC 741 and a delegate to the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council (MBCLC).
When he was ready to expand his activism from the worksite into bigger issues, Alcaraz found Local 1000—with our many organizing initiatives that reflect our core values—to be an invaluable tool in working with other community groups.
“Because of Stand Up and Take Charge, the Regional Communities of Leadership and the Purpose Statement, we joined with the Central Labor Council and became part of the core team for COPA,” Alcaraz said of Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action, which unites faith groups, public schools, labor and nonprofits to build leaders in the community. COPA is currently close to securing $500,000 in needed medical care for Monterey County’s uninsured and undocumented population.
Alcaraz’ engagement with COPA is a perfect example of how Local 1000 helps our members make meaningful change through interacting with the larger world outside the worksite. “The work that we do is just work; it’s only part of a life,” he said. “We have all these other things. There are so many ways of outreach.”
For Alcaraz, reaching out is a natural part of being a member of his union. “We are a union, but we are part of the community … and the community is us,” Alcaraz said.
His fellow activists and labor leaders have been impressed with Alcaraz’ efforts: Earlier this year he was named “Unionist of the Year” by the MBCLC for his union commitment as well as his work with groups such as COPA. He is humbled by the award but also validated. “This is kind of a natural outgrowth of the way that I am: I want to help people. I was made for these roles.”
And Alcaraz sees his personal development as intertwined with his union: “As Local 1000 grows, so do I,” he said.