ORGANIZING IN CALIFORNIA’S CENTRAL VALLEY WITH WORKING AMERICA

Photo by Theresa Ann Photography

Photo by Theresa Ann Photography

Yesterday I went to Modesto in the northern part of the Central Valley to canvass with Working America and attend a joint fundraiser for them and the North Valley Labor Federation.

Two years ago, labor lawyers and activists, Fran Schreiberg and Lora Jo Foo and I started a new model of Working America’s amazing canvassing operation in Congressional Districts 10 and 21 in the Central Valley of California. Believing there’s strength in numbers, our goal was to reach out to Working-class people across race, identifying their interests (jobs, health care, education etc) getting them to sign up as members and to take action in their area of concern (send an email, write a text, attend a meeting, etc).

left to right Fran Schreiberg, Susan Sachem, Pedro Ramirez Central Valley Field Organizer and Kathryn Lybarger – Photo by Theresa Ann Photography

with Susan Sachen of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and Kathryn Lybarger, President and Campaign & Field Director of same – Photo by Theresa Ann Photography

What is new about our model is the incorporation of volunteers—some 800 have traveled from the Bay Area after being recruited and organized by Fran and Lora Jo—into the paid professional WA canvassers.

Over these 2 years, 36,000 members have been recruited and we were able to flip those 2 congressional seats from Republican to labor-friendly Democratic although this was viewed as a real long shot! Now we have to ensure they are re-elected in 2020.

What I love about Working America is that they do this work year-round in key locations in the US and an ongoing membership is created beyond the election cycle.

Yesterday I canvased for new members (in 100 degree heat) and spoke at the fundraiser which was billed as “An Evening With Jane Fonda.”

Tim Robertson, executive Director of the North Valley Labor Federation put the whole thing together.

with Tim Robertson and Nicole Rice, UFCW Local 8 – Photo by Theresa Ann Photography

It was a beautiful experience—The Who’s who of the North Valley Labor Federation and what a diverse group it is… not at all resembling the old labor stereotype— they were old, young, Black, Latinex, white, Asian and I loved being in their midst. There were the Plumbers & Pipefitters, the United Domestic Workers, SEIU, California School Employees, Laborers, Electrical Workers, United Steelworkers, United Health Workers, Firefighters, Sheetmetal Workers and Operating Engineers to name but a few.
And we raised a bunch of money!!

Photo by Theresa Ann Photography

Jacques Loveall, President of United Food & Commercial Workers local 8, presented me with the “9 to 5” Award. And, much to my joy and surprise, Jacques got up when I was through speaking and pledged that the Local was going to fund an additional organizer for Working America in the Central Valley. This was beyond our wildest dreams and sorely needed. One more key organizer!!! Think of all that we can accomplish now!!

me hugging Jacques Loveall after he announced funding for an organizer for WA.
(photo: Theresa Ann)

Our immediate task is to build support for a new proposition—SCHOOLS & COMMUNITIES FIRST—to close the corporate tax loophole that has drained billions of dollars from our local schools and communities for over 40 years.

In a few weeks I go to Scranton, PA, with Working America to do the same thing: canvass and fundraise.

All this is building local power and laying the foundation for 2020 and beyond.

“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”

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17 Comments
  1. jane,
    i love seeing the work you’re doing throughout the country, i wish more people had the ambition, open mindedness, and humility that you have. and i can’t wait to chat with you when you come back to michigan.
    -sienna

  2. this is amazing! proud of your work, jane. with love, claire x

  3. Hi Jane, I’m Monika, I’m 15 and I’m your big fan from Poland, I love you, I can watch Grace and Frankie all day, this show is hilarious, it’s one of my favourite shows ever
    I totally adore you, you are my favourite actress, one of my biggest dreams is to meet you, sadly I will never have a chance because I live so far away but it would be just as great if you answer my comment, so I would know you read it, I know you are busy and I am no one important but
    I would be very happy
    Also I have a question, do you answer your fanmail? Is there a chance to get an autograph from you? It would be amazing
    I wish you all the best, because you are the best ❤️
    Greetings from Poland, love you xx

    • I do sign the photos that fans send me. Yes. xxJane

  4. Jane, you once again amaze me with your hard work with the working class of America. Working America is a great group, listening to the needs of the working class of our country. I love their task, Schools and Communities First. (I’m not sure if people understand how important it is to fight for proper funding for public schools.)
    Having a fundraiser with the union leaders is a great thing. The new president in 2020 needs to reach out to the working class, including the unions, now. They know how to organize and fight for the future of our country. I am a member and delegate for the Michigan Education Association/National Education Association. The NEA is the largest union in the United States. One in 100 Americans is a member of the NEA and 1 in 39 voters reside in an NEA household. I can only imagine what the numbers are if you combine all of the unions across the country. These union folks can be a powerful group and truly understand the needs of the working class of America.

  5. Love to see you working for labor rights and helping working America. My whole family was/is working America. Love seeing how much people enjoy volunteering. I got to get More into it.

  6. thanks for doing all these, please keep it up

  7. Jane,
    Thank for you all of the hard work you are doing to advocate for labor rights. I studied political science in college and really developed a passion to work as an activist, rather than in a political position. With all that is going on in our country right now, I’m feeling more inspired than ever to use my voice to create change. I’ve been researching where I can get involved and I’m really excited about it. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I wish more people felt called to use their voice for good!

    -Robin

  8. Dear Ms. Fonda: While not wanting to be a nag, I was just wondering if you received the two photos of my artwork that I mailed off to you via your Atlanta business office. Just curious… Thanks and have fun! Yours-Steven Vasko

    • Yes, Steven, and thank you. You’ve very talented

  9. Jane, please take over in ‘Tea at Five’.You would be perfect.
    Jason x

  10. Hello Jane, my name is Barbara and I’m from Germany. I’m a big fan of you and her person! I have followed a lot of you and how much they are working for the people! Respect! I take my hat off to you. I would like to ask you if you have received my letter which I sent to the address in Atlanta. I know that they are very busy and traveling a lot. Still, it would be nice if they responded to my comment so I know they read it! I would be very happy about that. I wish you all the best and keep up the good work. I love you ❤ Greeting Barbara

  11. Jane, I am thinking of you and your whole family. I am sending you all my love and compassion. Take care of each other in this sad time! Much love!

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