“The only way to close the widening wage, income and wealth gap in America is through unionization.”
Lou Siegel is a labor relations consultant based in Los Angeles who works exclusively with unions in communications, government affairs, organizational and strategic development and fundraising. He has assisted various labor organizations in contract negotiations, political action, media relations, membership recruitment and leadership training. An advocate of the American Labor Movement’s role in economic development and democratic progress, Siegel works to make union concerns heard in educational, political and journalistic circles. He edits union periodicals and journals, publicizes workplace issues, develops and implements lobbying campaigns and raises money for labor-friendly candidates and causes. He teaches labor relations through the Los Angeles Community College District and blogs at laborlou.com.
Labor Topics Lou Can Speak About
Labor history, Unions, the Labor Movement
How and why did you become involved in the labor movement?
After working in advocacy journalism and public relations, I found a perfect fit for my political values in union communications and consulting
How do you work with other unions/labor organizations?
As an educator with the trade tech labor center and a `consultant on various political and economic development projects, I work closely with unions and district and central councils toward common goals
What is one of the greatest challenges facing labor today?
Overcoming a tilted labor relations playing field which favors employers in organizing and contract bargaining
What is one of the greatest challenges your union/organization faces today?
Clearing up public misperceptions about the role of teacher unions
What would you like your union/organization to accomplish in the next 5 years?
Organize non-union community college faculty and staff within our jurisdiction and continue to work for meaningful reform within the LACCD
What is your most significant contribution to the labor movement?
Applying my particular skill set to helping unions achieve their political and organizational goals. Working with unions to streamline their message to members and the public.
What is your most powerful memory of being in the labor movement?
My first meeting in 1986 sponsored by the AFL-CIO about the crisis unions were facing over public perception. I was impressed by the eclectic nature of the gathering: “suits”; blue-collar workers; political “radicals”; enormous racial, ethnic and generational diversity
What is one thing students can do today to get involved with labor?
Enroll in Labor Studies classes
What labor leader, past or present, had the biggest influence on you? How/why?
Jim Wood, head of the LA Labor Fed in the 1990s, modeled how union leaders, through clarity and decisiveness, can achieve political and organizational power
What do you personally want to accomplish in the next 5 years?
Continue to teach, promote labor’s message and stimulate the discussion through my blog and work on how unions can regain power and influence.
A professional question of your choice? (You ask and answer yourself.)
q-Can the labor movement survive in its current form or must it transform to accommodate the current political and economic structures?
a-The current collective bargaining framework my have been appropriate in the past but a new structure of representation may now be necessary
A personal question of your choice? (Same as above.)
q-How can I best utilize my skills and experience to promote the interests of workers
a-I have to stay engaged with the latest trends and ideas as well as keep my “ear to the ground” regarding labor and other political, social and cultural change movements
How can students and faculty connect with you? (I.e. a link to your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)