Lifetime labor advocate Jan Tokumaru was among the honorees at Trade-Tech Labor Center’s 40th Anniversary Banquet on March 22 at Los Angeles Trade Tech College.
Also recognized were Rusty Hicks and the L.A. County Federation of Labor team; California Labor Commissioner Julie Su; Randy Korgan, Teamsters Local 1932; Jackie White, National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 24; and Luther Medina, SMART (Sheet Metal/Air/Mail/Transportation) 105.
Tokumaru is the California Labor Federation Workforce and Economic Development Program Project coordinator for Southern California. Previously, she was a project director for the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education; with the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor; and elected executive vice president of a Communications Workers of America local.
In addition to working with a range of industry sectors on behalf of workers, Tokumaru’s community affiliations include executive board positions with Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance–Los Angeles, Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress, and Advisory Board of Los Angeles Trade Technical College Labor Center. She is actively engaged with various initiatives to promote equity, economic mobility, dignity and quality of life for all people and communities including immigrants and young workers.
Originally from Santa Barbara, she has lived in the Los Angeles area many years since receiving her BA degree in social welfare from Humboldt State University.
In her acceptance speech, Tokumaru said:
“There is a movement to build, work to be done, and I take inspiration and renewed commitment from many of you in this room, for whom I am grateful. Congratulations to all the honorees and, of course, John McDowell, founder of the Trade Tech Labor Center.
“My recent, however brief, experience working with the Labor Center has given me a much better idea of all the great work their team does to bring together unions and working people through education. Labor education opens up possibilities to become opportunities for young folks and other workers looking to make career changes.
“On the workforce development front, the California Labor Federation’s Workforce and Economic Development Program gives me great hope for the work to create better lives for working people.
“The L.A. Fed Workers Congress highlighted the exciting launch of a strategic plan reflected in the many new diverse faces of the labor movement bolstered by alliances in practice for leading change.
“The passionate actions of large numbers of people provide much energy for changes to improve all of our lives. From the Margery Stoneman Douglas High School students in Parkland, Fla. to the West Virginia teachers, people younger and older are rising up, organizing and building power.
“I didn’t know anything about the West Virginia teachers’ struggle and strike until it started getting a bit of national media attention. These teachers weren’t satisfied with the state’s poor original offer and continued their strike to a result that benefited all state employees in West Virginia.
“Last year’s Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and the many other marches throughout the U.S. and other international cities promoted a progressive wave that led into the Me Too and Time’s Up movement to remove misogynists from high positions.
“Many movements over the past five years encourage the potential and realization of progressive change in this country. The fight for DACA and against the racist anti-Muslim immigration policies of the current administration brought demonstrations at airports and on the streets of much of this country. While the devastating conditions for so many immigrants who have contributed so much is not yet settled, resistance continues to grow.
“Other important movements have begun and promote greater change like Black Lives Matter. Their fight for black people is a fight for all people. The historic movement at Standing Rock was a force that brought together indigenous people from throughout the country and throughout the world.
“Sometimes it may seem that resistance focuses on what we are against, but I believe there is a real positive force building in this country that is FOR the vast majority of working people. Wherever we are, there is a movement to build. Let’s do this TOGETHER!”
Tokumaru also received a Certificate of Recognition from Assemblymember Miguel Santiago of the 53rd District.