“Si se puede. But only under any circumstances.”
Shigueru Tsuha, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Dolores Huerta Labor Institute. His experience in education includes his work as the Academy Coordinator of the Step Ahead, first-year experience program at Norco College. He received his doctorate in sociology from UC Riverside, where he taught sociology and ethnic studies, specializing in race and class inequality. He was also a research assistant at UC Riverside and helped develop their Labor Studies minor program. Dr. Tsuha’s labor experience includes his work as an organizer for UAW 2865. He has experience working closely with labor and labor advocacy organizations such as AFSCME 3299 and United Students Against Sweatshops. He also took part in the fight for full redress for the Japanese who were taken from Latin America and placed into internment camps along with Japanese Americans during World War II. Dr. Tsuha traces his passion for labor and social justice to his catholic upbringing in Peru and to his family’s struggles as immigrant workers in California.
Labor Topics Shigueru Can Speak About
Labor Education, Labor Studies, Organizing, Economic Inequality
How and why did you become involved in the labor movement?
I first became involved with the union movement as an undergrad when I had the privilege of spending my summer in San Francisco in the AFL-CIO’s Union Summer Internship program in 2001. I had always felt that there was too much inequality in our society, and the union movement provided my first opportunity to channel my energies in an organized, strategic manner. As an immigrant whose parents’ union job was vital to our struggle out of poverty, I’ve had first-hand experience in understanding the urgent necessity to fight for the working class.
What is one of the greatest challenges facing labor today?
The influence that corporations have on our electoral process. Union members have been strong, persistent, and dedicated as ever, but in our political struggles, we often find ourselves in an uphill battle against rich corporations that will use their money and influence to chip away at worker’s rights and union’s rights. Unless this changes, the full potential of union power in politics will not manifest.
What is one of the greatest challenges your union/organization faces today?
The budget cuts that have affected all of the public educational institutions affect our union of faculty at the LACCD. As teachers’ rights are students’ rights, the overcrowded classrooms, the cuts in available classes, and the problems that emerge from all these issues have really been met head-on by both faculty and students who are working together to improve our working and learning conditions.
What would you like your union/organization to accomplish in the next 5 years?
To put enough pressure on law-makers to ensure free public education for all LACCD and California students; to hire more full-time faculty and offer venues for adjuncts to make that transition; and to provide enough classes for our students to get high-quality education they deserve.
What is your most significant contribution to the labor movement?
Educating students about the achievements of the labor movement so that they may become aware of their own rights as they enter the workforce.
What is your most powerful memory of being in the labor movement?
Sharing a picket line with my parents.
What is one thing students can do today to get involved with labor?
Join or start a pro-labor student group at their campus that explores the working conditions of workers within and outside the college and educates other students about these issues.
What labor leader, past or present, had the biggest influence on you? How/why?
Sociology Professors Dr. Edna Bonacich & Dr. Ellen Reese taught me the importance of connecting labor and workers with education and students, an issue I’ve devoted most of my entire adult life to.
How can students and faculty connect with you? (I.e. a link to your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
E-mail works best