The leaked meeting audio about redistricting between LA City Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, and Kevin de León included LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. He resigned last night.
The Fed represents hundreds of unions and labor organizations, and is regarded as a “clearing house of labor” due to its political involvement, endorsements, and “get out the vote” operations, says journalist and historian Miriam Pawel. And since the 1990s, the organization has long been a powerful player in city politics.
She credits Miguel Contreras with building the LA County Fed into what it is today.
“He comes in 1994 as the political director and becomes the overall director in ‘96. And that coincides with the Prop 187 movement, which was the anti-immigrant proposition that passed … overwhelmingly. And the backlash to that is … credited with spiriting the rise of Latino political power. So all of that coalesces in the rise of the Federation of Labor into the political player that it is.”
Due to its position in state and local politics, Pawel says it makes sense for the Fed to protect its interests during the LA redistricting process.
“It is still a purely political process, unlike … on the state level where there's an independent commission. That's a process of horse-trading and classic political wheeling and dealing,” she explains. “The Labor Federation has a lot of interest in trying to, as they talked about on the tape, to protect the interests of the City Council people who they feel are going to be their supporters.”
Pawel points out, however, that a new generation of organizers might be taking a different approach to building the labor movement.