Labor has been on the forefront of economic inequality since workers first decided to bargain collectively. That connection between labor and economic equality is showing as USAction announced their new executive director.
USAction, a leading national community organizing network with affiliates in 21 states and nearly 350,000 members nationwide, announced today that Fred Azcarate, a rising star in the labor and progressive movement, will take over as the organization’s new Executive Director. Azcarate, the former Executive Director of Jobs with Justice and President of the US Student Association, is currently the head of the AFL-CIO’s jobs campaign asdirector of America Wants to Work. Last year, Azcarate was named one of “50 Young Progressive Activists Who Are Changing America” cited in the Huffington Post. The hire represents a significant alignment between the community organizing and labor networks.
“Fred brings an unparalleled understanding of and commitment to community organizing and feels to his core the issues that we fight for,” said Khalid Pitts, President of USAction and Director of Strategic Campaigns at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “Fred will be a tremendous springboard to bring USAction into the future and to build on the important work Jeff Blum started. We’re extremely excited to have him leading our team, and building an even stronger bond between the labor and organizing movements.”
USAction was founded in 1999 with a goal to engage national partners and state affiliates in progressive campaigns that enrich people’s lives. Over the years, USAction has fought to protect Social Security and Medicare from privatization efforts, organized the second-largest nonpartisan voting registration effort in history, fought for affordable, quality healthcare, and campaigned to make the rich pay their fair share of taxes while providing jobless benefits for the unemployed. Currently, USAction and its 21 state affiliates employ a staff of 240 in 40 offices, has approximately 342,000 members, and a combined listserv capacity of 1.2 million supporters. Azcarate replaces outgoing and founding Executive Director Jeff Blum.
“I am so excited to build on the phenomenal work that USAction affiliates and national partners are doing every day, whether it’s to increase access to health care, right-size the Pentagon so we can invest in America’s real priorities, or create smart immigration reform policies,” said Azcarate. “We’re at a critical moment, and I’m thrilled to help lead the fight for an economy of opportunity and justice, to rebuild the middle class and ensure that all have access to it. There’s a saying I like- ‘If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.’ Together we will walk with our partners across the progressive movement to build an economy that works for everyone.”
“As corporate interests step up their attacks on working people and the middle class struggles to get ahead, the fight for jobs and economic prosperity needs all the allies it can get,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “I can think of no better ally than USAction with Fred Azcarate at the helm. I’ve been working side by side with Fred for the last six years to give working people a voice on the job, and a future with economic security. His passion will be key to bringing the labor and community organizing networks together to wage campaigns that create good jobs, health care, and a secure retirement.”
Azcarate has been at the AFL-CIO since 2007, when he was hired to run the AFL-CIO’s Voice@Work campaign, including the campaign to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. From 1992 until 2007, Azcarate was the Executive Director for Jobs with Justice, growing the organization from 3 staff to an organization with 60 staff and representing more than 40 coalitions. Prior to that, Azcarate served as President of the US Student Association.
“When labor unions and community organizers come together to fight for the 99 percent, everyone benefits,” said Mary Kay Henry, SEIU’s International President. “By strengthening our partnership, we can create an economy that addresses inequities and works better for all of us.”
“I’ve had the great privilege of working with both Fred and USAction for a number of years,” said Larry Cohen, President, Communications Workers of America. “USAction has played a critical role in bringing together the progressive movement, and Fred is a great leader, who has led a growing movement for democracy and economic justice. Together, they’re going to do great things for all of us.”
Said Center for Community Change Executive Director, Deepak Bhargava, “Last month, USAction and Center for Community Change created an historic partnership between our two organizations, with the idea being that progressivism demands movements and coalitions whose efforts are greater than the sum of their parts. That’s exactly why Fred Azcarate is the perfect person to lead USAction and our movement.”
Azcarate comes from a labor family– his mother, a nurse, belonged to SEIU1199 in New York. He graduated from SUNY-Binghamton with a Bachelor’s degree in economics. Today, Azcarate lives in Takoma Park, MD with his wife and two young sons.