General News

Why This Sanitation Worker Left His Job to Volunteer for a Council Candidate

Carlos Menchaca has been a champion for Teamsters in the City Council

One week ago, Jose Lopez was sorting New Yorkers’ recycling at Sims, a recycling plant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. But last Wednesday, he took a leave of absence to volunteer for a City Council candidate who is very important to Jose and other workers at Sims.

City Council Member Carlos Menchaca has represented the diverse Brooklyn neighborhoods of Sunset Park and Red Hook for the last four years. In that time, he has gone to bat over and over again for his working class constituents, many of whom are immigrants.

When Jose and other immigrant workers at Sims were organizing a union earlier this year – and meeting resistance from company managers – Council Member Menchaca sprang into action. He rallied outside the recycling plant with workers and the Teamsters, and advocated for the workers’ rights inside the plant, where union organizers were not allowed. When Sims workers threatened a strike to get their union, Menchaca had their backs again, and he pushed Sims at a City Council hearing on its resistance to the workers’ union.

Come March, Jose and his coworkers had won their union. And they knew their local City Council Member went above and beyond what most elected officials will do to support workers.

So when he heard that Menchaca had a tough reelection fight, Jose started volunteering, knocking doors, and making phone calls.

“Carlos was there for me, so now I’m here for him,” says Jose.

He put to work the organizing skills he had honed during the union drive to persuade voters and ensure that workers saw the importance of the race and turned out. And last week, he took a leave of absence to work full-time on the campaign.

“Carlos Menchaca showed what it looks like when an elected official really fights for workers,” says Jose. “I’ve been telling our story to workers across the district and it has been resonating. Our community is tired of politicians who are nowhere to be found when you really need them. The important fights take a lot of work, they require risks. Carlos is a special elected official and that is why it is so important that we keep him in the City Council to represent us.”