Interview with Doug Marian

Interview with Doug Marian

This month, WCA highlights the union leadership and achievements of Doug Marian who serves as the Business Representative for United Association Plumbers Local 78 (UA 78). Marian joined the union in 1979, and later became an organizer in 2001. Marian has been heavily involved in pushing for Project Labor Agreements at the local government level on behalf of UA 78, and being a member of various committees in the community regarding the governance of plumbing standards and codes. We had the opportunity to briefly discuss his accomplishments as a committed union member and a devoted Working Californian. 

What are the objectives of the UA 78? 

UA 78 provides employment opportunities, good wages, benefits and the best possible training for our members and future members.

 How does UA 78 distinguish itself from other locals? Provide some highlights of Local 78 that you are most proud of. 

I believe that our local is highly progressive and active in markets outside of our norm—this includes work around Service and Repair, and Housing. By expanding our market share, we are enabled to offer greater opportunities to individuals looking to start a career in our industry. 

What specific aspects of the Union attracted you to become a committed union member and one of the current leaders of the UA 78? 

Well, I am a second generation plumber; but at the time I started, I was already married and had a child. Because I was pursuing a career in order to provide for my family, the benefits aspect of the Union, such as having a pension, medical benefits and a good pay was what attracted me to become a union member. I have worked to stay involved in what the Union supported, which became my career and livelihood. 

What are the different roles that you have played in the Union that have led you to serve as the Business Representative of UA 78? 

Over many years, I've served on several committees within the local union, which ultimately led me to becoming a full time organizer. I was fortunate enough to land that position, for which I served two years before being elected as Business Representative. 

 How has the Building Trades worked with the community to provide its members good living wages and a supportive working environment? 

Local 78 participates in many ways with community groups from career fairs to classroom talking series.  We support Project Labor Agreements (PLA) that always have local hire requirements, but also the legal vehicle to bring in and dispatch local residents to these projects.  The PLA's provide the opportunity to allow local community residents a chance at a well-paid career. 

What are some examples in which the Building Trades has worked with the unions to socially impact families and the community? 

We fight for projects at City Hall.  We picket and rally to ensure many of these projects are manned with our contractors and members.  Again this provides for a well-paid, well-benefited position in which our members can provide well for their families.

How has the Building Trades supported you and your family? 

I've been fortunate and this industry has been good to me. I've owned homes, been able to provide for my family, and sent both of my children to college where they both achieved advanced degrees.  And I do have a sense of some security, such as a pension when I decided to retire. 

Are you currently holding any other leadership and/or membership roles that have allowed you to explore your interests and passions? 

Yes, I am highly involved in the plumbing industry beyond the local union.  I am serving my second term as International President of ASSE (American Society of Sanitary Engineering), where we create and publish standards for plumbing products, installation and functionality. We also create and publish professional qualification standards that individuals can be certified on. I sit on 17 different committees within ASSE and I also sit on a board that governs the plumbing codes in California as well as many other states. Currently, I am serving as president of our California State Pipe Trades Council. 

 Why is it important for people to know about the work that you do with UA 78? 

It’s important people to know that we are working with the communities to offer careers. We are helping advance individuals into the middle class. In fact, we have several programs for Veterans—such as the “Helmets to Hardhats” program and the “Veterans Independence Program”, which is offered by UA.

Interview with Summer Zachary

Working Californians focuses not only on its seasoned union members, but also its hardworking apprentices, who work tirelessly to learn the trade and craft well. Summer Zachary, an Journeyman Sounding Installer with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 11 epitomizes an industrious woman in labor, who represents working women across the nation in the fight for equal pay between men and women. The Apprenticeship program at IBEW Local 11 is an “earn while you learn” five-year training program, which requires its apprentices to work full time hours while completing classroom related study.  We received the wonderful opportunity to briefly discuss Summer’s accomplishments as a devoted and passionate member of IBEW Local 11.

What is your title and what do you do for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11?

I am Journeyman Sounding Installer and I serve on the Executive board of the Electrical Minority Caucus, within Local 11.

When did you get involved with IBEW Local 11?

I began in February 2013 in the apprenticeship program. I started attending meetings with union empowerment and leading mentoring programs that offered resources to women in the workforce, and it was then that I started seeking services from the Electrical Training Institute (ETI) mentoring program.

What are the objectives of IBEW Local 11?

We handle assignments of all locals, men and women involved with data, fire alarms, and emergency response services.  This division is one of the classifications of the union. Most of the members of Local 11 are in one of these types of electrical classifications.

What specific aspects of the Union attracted you to become a committed member of IBEW Local 11?

I think the main aspect was the huge gap between men and women and the middle-class and low-income groups in the industry. All my life I had performed administrative work and so when I joined this organization and started going to these empowerment meetings I started realizing that there was a giant gap in the blue collar working class and it’s getting worse.  And the trades and the trades unions are kind of the last bastion of the middle class as they are actively working against the 1% to reduce this income disparity and make the gap disappear. 

I also realized as I got more involved there were no women!  That impacted me to get involved because being an African American female and having a shared interest with other members I thought this was awesome. 

 I felt like I couldn’t just be in the union and have other people not know about the jobs and opportunities they were providing and the benefits they are actively fighting for.  So I wanted to learn more and that is what made me start attending the general meetings. One day I googled “Apprenticeship program,” and IBEW Local 11 popped up. I soon found out that I had the opportunity to work and go to school.

 I graduated early from the Apprenticeship program—it was great, and I loved it! I worked in fire alarms at my previous job and when I started taking the Apprenticeship classes, I learned about what fire alarms are about. I had a context to understand better what I was learning and things were really coming together. It made the workmanship much more interesting.

How has IBEW Local 11 supported you and your family?

I was living with my mom and with no money. The first day I showed up for boot camp, I was told that our company Work Source would provide me with a voucher for a free pair of boots and tools. I was blown away by that! I took the test, passed, and was sent to boot camp in August. When I went into boot camp, I was blown away by the fact that I received free books—a free education was unheard of to me. Free tools, boots, and books. That was such an amazing opportunity that most people don’t have. It’s like: We [IBEW Local 11] are going to give you this huge chance. All you have to do is show up, be eager to learn, do well and represent IBEW Local 11 with integrity. From that day forward, I was devoted to this organization and everything it stands for.

Aside from your work with IBEW Local 11, how have you contributed to the greater community?

IBEW has helped me take care of people who have taken care of me. For example, once I started working, I started participating in other community groups. I help wire up electrical outlets at a center for children in need.

I am also an instructor at ETI. If I am not busy with the Electrical Minority Caucus meetings, I am either teaching or learning in my apprenticeship class. It’s giving me a little bit of purpose. I am always happy to help anyone who is interested in the program. I get to talk about my experience, and let people know that there is Health insurance and a strong brotherhood behind you.

What issues are you most passionate about it?

The situation of the working class and how they are being paid for their value and the time that they work is something I am very passionate about. I went to Columbia school for my undergraduate work. Being on that track, you don’t think about this issue and you don’t think about the impact of that. At a certain age, I felt strongly that the building trades is not only a craft—it is an artwork. It is not something that anyone can just do; it is something that you have to work at. You can’t just know it; you have to be trained. And, there is an extreme amount of time and money that is put into your training and education.

In addition, I am very passionate when it comes to conversations regarding the trades, especially when people pass judgment on their professions. It is like: “You don’t know the time and energy that is required for the apprenticeship program and what apprentices have to go through. I am dedicated to the cause of the unions and I love to let everyone know that I am in the union.

Why is it important for people to know about the work that you do with IBEW Local 11?

If you’re looking to be involved with something that is more than a job, IBEW Local 11 is the place to go. If you’re not sure where to go, then there is no harm to join. They will teach you and you’ll find out really fast whether or not this is something that you want to do. If you decide that it works for you, there is no better way to get into a career than IBEW Local 11’s Apprenticeship program. There is a positive reinforcement and the people you are working with create a genuine, lasting and strong connection with you.

Hot tracks

Get your day started right with this playlist, featuring the incredible artists performing this year at the Labor Day Music Festival. From Snoop to Los Lonely Boys, these tunes will get you going.

Listen to it, share it, and lock in your tickets for the 5th Annual Labor Day Music Fest.

Is there a track we should add? Let us know on our Facebook page and we'll add 'em to the playlist. 

Interview with Ron Miller

Working Californians (WCA) supports and celebrates the tremendous work of business leaders, union activists, and hardworking people of California. Ron Miller, the Executive Secretary of the Los Angeles/Orange County Building & Construction Trades Council (“Building Trades”), has dedicated his leadership and service to promoting good working standards, wages, benefits and career opportunities for local communities. The Building Trades represents 140,000 skilled construction workers in 14 trades and 52 local affiliated unions. After assuming his position as Executive Secretary in 2012, Miller has led negotiations in Project Labor Agreements with public and private entities, such as the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. We had the opportunity to briefly discuss his accomplishments as a longstanding union member and a proud Working Californian.

When did you get involved with the Building Trades? 

I first became involved with the Building Trades when I was the business representative for the Plumber’s Union. I think it is hard to be in a union and not be involved with the Building Trades because they are the voice of the construction trades. 

What are the objectives of the Building Trades? 

The Building Trades act as an advocate and voice on behalf of all the trades and council. When we all stand together, we are stronger and are able to get our message across effectively. 

Can you please provide some highlights of Building Trades that you are most proud of?

I am most proud of our involvement in the community which is centered on what we call “Project Labor Agreements.”  The Building Trades has been in support of many agreements. To name a few we have: the Metro Agreement, in which we cover all transportation projects under Measure R; LAUSD agreements that resulted in the building of 130 new schools; and hundreds of agreements with the Port of Los Angeles. All of these have a local hiring component, which puts our members to work, facilitates local community recruitment and provides careers for them. 

What specific aspects of the Union attracted you to become a committed union member and one of the current leaders of the Building Trades? 

When I was a business representative for the plumbers union our local was close in proximity to the Building Trades. In fact, much of our work was centered on supporting the Trades. In my time at the plumbers union, I have seen great value in the Building Trades, and how it provided strength in its membership. 

What are the different roles that you have played in the Union that have led you to serve as the Executive Secretary of the Building Trades? 

Like most people, I did not see myself ever becoming an Executive Secretary once I started my career in the Building Trades. I began as a plumber and then shifted my focus to sitting on various local union committees. I sat on the Executive Board of my local union and then went on to become the Business Representative. 

How has the Building Trades worked with the community to provide its members good living wages and a supportive working environment? 

From our union agreements with the community arise many opportunities to get into the local union pipeline, whether it is the plumbing unions, ironworker unions, or the electrical unions. Our agreements provide an individual living wages in which he can provide for his family and retire on a modest pension. Another benefit is the member participation—we are only as strong as our affiliates. Without their participation, the Building Trades would be nothing. One of the primary labor issues is wage inequality amongst women. However, in the Building Trades, the women make the same amount as the men in the Building Trades. Since women go through the same training, there is no reason they should not make the same wages. 

What are some examples in which the Building Trades has worked with the unions to socially impact families and the community? 

The Building Trades have worked with disadvantaged communities to break down barriers and provide individuals with career resources and opportunities. Many people do not realize how closely we work with local community groups—such as Youth Build, the Work Source Center and Los Angeles Urban League—to help individuals achieve their high school diploma or pass the GED so that they can gain a career in the Building Trades.

 How has the Building Trades supported you and your family? 

After finishing high school and spending a semester in community college, I decided to do away with education and, instead, get involved with the plumbing trade. But to my surprise, the trade required that I take classes. After finishing the plumber’s apprenticeship and working as a Journeyman for 10 years I decided I wanted to teach apprenticeship school, after pursuing my teaching credential I taught apprenticeship school for 10 years. From this experience, I was able to receive good benefits and healthcare for my family and send my children to school. It is rewarding to have former students of the apprenticeship reach out to you in appreciation for your contribution as their instructor and to watch them thrive as they attribute their success to the apprenticeship program. 

Aside from your work with the Union, how have you contributed to the greater community?

Before my involvement with the Union I participated in local community events with the local high school. However, now that I am in the Building Trades, I am immersed in community work because that is part of my job, which is not a bad thing at all. 

What issues are you most passionate about? 

I want good jobs for the local community. We [Building Trades] continuously deal with many bad contractors who profit on the back of working men and women. Our mission is to create good working standards and good pay, and to rid society of bad contractors along the way, or help them clean up their act to become better contractors. 

In what ways have you seen Working Californians (WCA) have a positive impact in the community and among unions in Southern California? 

WCA does a great job in – a lot like the Building Trades—being a voice for working men and women. They help shine the light on good politicians who stand up for us. They nurture their political careers because, as many know, politicians often move up the political ladder. And it is very important that we elect good people sitting on the local school boards or water commissions for we know they are the Senate, House and government leaders of tomorrow. A good example is current Governor Jerry Brown who started off as a local LA community college trustee many years ago. 

Any final thoughts you would like to share? 

I believe that WCA is a good group that helps inform the local community on how local politicians play a good role in standing up for working men and women. We are very fortunate in California to have a good foothold due to our political support here; however, we must keep in mind that we are one election away from having prevailing wages banned, as it is in other states. So, it is crucial to keep good politicians elected, who stand up for workingmen and women.

Everything You Need to Know About the 2016 Labor Day Music Festival

The Labor Day Music Festival is back and better than ever. Come celebrate with us on Monday, September 5th!


General admission tickets are $20. We’re also offering a limited number of VIP Experience tickets, with seats on the main stage and other perks, including exclusive beverage concessions, access to executive restrooms, VIP parking and a VIP gift bag filled with goodies.

Click here to buy tickets


Every year we celebrate the contributions working people make to our great city. The fifth annual Labor Day Music Festival is going to be legit. We have Snoop Dogg, Los Lonely Boys, Poncho Sanchez and a full line-up of great musical talent. We’ve got great food and beer gardens ready to roll, all in beautiful Exposition Park. This is a party for you, the hardworking men and women of Southern California. All proceeds go to Working Californians and projects that benefit working people.


Snoop Dogg, the 18-time Grammy nominated, multi-million-album-selling superstar and an LA-area native who knows how hard people in this town work—and how to throw a party will share the stage with Los Lonely Boys, Poncho Sanchez, Dr. John, The New Orleans All-Star Band, Dennis Jones Band, The Victor Orlando Orchestra and Fun-Ja-La; Cuban Funk. Click here for more information about this year’s performers.


The 2016 Labor Day Music Festival will be held in beautiful Exposition Park, between the Natural History Museum and the LA Coliseum.


700 Exposition Park Dr

Los Angeles, CA 90037

Parking is available, or take the Expo line to the Expo Park/USC stop.


Labor Day — it’s easy to remember!

Monday, September 5th

Doors open at 11am

This is going to be a hot event. Don’t sleep—get tickets while you still can.

See you there!



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