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Seven Boxer & Gerson attorneys joined some 1,000 other guests and friends of labor last Friday night at the Alameda Labor Council (ALC), AFL-CIO Unity Dinner held at the Oakland Marriott City Center. The annual event is one of the largest labor gatherings in the Bay Area, bringing together key figures representing the 135,000 union members serving under the ALC umbrella from more nearly 140 unions in the region. Founded in 1901, the ALC was chartered by the AFL-CIO as the regional body for labor unity in 1958.
Workers’ Compensation attorneys (left to right above) Justin Litvack, Dennis Popalardo, Dikla Dolev, Amy Shen, Maria Sager, Deirdre Mochel and Tiffany Speers represented Boxer & Gerson and its long ties to the union movement on both sides of the bay.
The gathering was highlighted by an awards program that honors union members or friends who have contributed in extraordinary ways to the movement.
Award recipients this year included “Unionist of the Year” Yvonne Williams, who serves as president and business agent of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 and also as president of the ALC. Williams’s skillful and determined leadership in recent labor and strike negotiations with UC Berkeley has put a well-deserved spotlight on her long and successful career in union activism.
Winning honors as “Legislator of the Year” was Tony Thurmond, California’s first-ever bilingual Superintendent of Public Instruction. Thurmond is a former state assembly member who represented the East Bay from 2014 to 2018. He had previously served on the Richmond City Council.
Thurmond grew up in poverty as the son of an immigrant single mother from Panama who died when he was 6. He now holds the state’s highest position in education, having won election last year in a major upset.
The evening’s third honoree was Maricruz Manzanarez, who was recognized with the organization’s “Dreamer” award. Manzanarez has been a longtime member of AFSCME Local 3299, the largest employee union representing workers in the University of California system. She serves on the local’s executive board and has done substantial additional work on behalf of immigrant employees who have faced many pressures in recent years in maintaining their work and residency status.