Chloe Osmer is currently a Senior Organizer with the AFL-CIO. Prior to coming to the AFL-CIO, Chloe was the Acting Director for the CLEAN Carwash Campaign. Her work has included strategic campaign planning, policy advocacy, communications and health and safety for the Carwash Campaign. Chloe recently earned her Master’s Degree in Public Policy from UCLA, where she completed her thesis on an analysis of legislation affecting carwash workers. Previously, Chloe worked for the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, producing communications for the Federation’s 2.1 million union members, and helping lead the Federation’s media work for over five years of political and legislative campaigns. Prior to that she spent two years at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, where she worked with the Labor Immigrant Organizing Network, a coalition of union and community organizers who helped advocate for change in AFL-CIO immigration policy. She is a Board Member of the Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health and for the Southern California NIOSH Education & Research Center.
Labor Topics Chloe Can Speak About
Organizing, Immigrant Rights and the Labor Movement, Health and Safety in the Workplace, International Trade and Cross Border Organizing.
What union leadership positions (E.g., Officer, Committee Member, etc.) have you held and/or currently hold?
Shop steward, Strike Committee Chair, Bargaining Committee Member
How and why did you become involved in the Labor Movement?
The first job that got me started in the labor movement was at the Labor Center at UC Berkeley, working with a labor-community coalition on immigrant rights and helping bring collective bargaining workshops into local high schools. But what really helped me understand what the labor movement was about was becoming involved in my own union as we negotiated our first contract. Helping chair our Action Committee, marching in actions for months, and preparing for a strike before the University finally agreed to a contract was a hard lesson in the realities of what we’re up against in this country when we unite in the workplace to form a union or get an employer to agree to a contract.
What is your most powerful memory as a labor activist or leader?
One of my most powerful memories as a labor activist was participating in the United Farm Workers march for strawberry workers in 1997. The march took place in my hometown of Watsonville, CA. I had grown up seeing the shacks in the labor camps that farm workers were forced to live in, watching planes spray methyl bromide on the fields and knowing some of my friends’ parents were working in those fields. I knew about the UFW and remembered the grape boycott from when I was a kid. But that day, to see 30,000 union members and their families come to Watsonville (basically doubling our city’s population), all in support of better conditions for farm workers, was amazing to me. That was when I first realized that there was an entire movement of people that the UFW was connected to, who would come in mass when a struggle needed support.
What can students do today to get involved in the Labor Movement? (Be specific.)
One of the best ways for students to get involved in the labor movement is to intern with a union, especially on an organizing campaign. It’s a great way to learn more about unions but you also learn a lot about yourself. On any given day you might find yourself leading chants on a picket line, helping research a corporation, or speaking at City Hall. If you don’t have the time to do an internship, just join a picket line for a day!