We're happy to welcome our newest organizer, Irene Arellano! With an extensive background in labor work, Irene will lead the way in Anaheim and strengthen our partnerships with communities throughout Orange and Los Angeles county.
Hello! I'm Irene Arellano, the new Faith Rooted Organizer with CLUE in Orange County.
I am the daughter of Mexican immigrants, raised in a strong labor union household in Anaheim, and I have been involved with the labor movement through family all of my life. My admiration for religious communities rallying around social justice issues was born out of this union upbringing as well as my Catholic faith, which teaches that there must be dignity of work and the rights of workers because the economy must serve the people and not vice versa.
From my early childhood I can recall vivid memories of picket lines and contract campaigns. Later on as a student activist and organizer, I organized students and service workers in Orange County, Los Angeles, and in Pennsylvania. In 2013, I organized UC Irvine students in support of gaining a fair contract for service workers within the UC system throughout the state of California. I was later hired as a full time organizer with AFSCME Local 3299 in Los Angeles where I walked the halls of UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center ensuring that workers had a voice on the job against management abuses. I listened attentively during house visits, led spirited pickets, and helped secure a good contract with the threat of a strike looming in 2014.
I graduated with a degree in Political Science from Cal State Fullerton in 2015. That same year, I moved across the country to pursue my interests in the labor movement after I was granted a scholarship from The Pennsylvania State University for a Master’s degree in the school of Labor and Employment Relations. My program in Labor and Global Worker’s Rights has a strong focus on strategic corporate research, gender and race relations at work and workers’ rights in the global economy.
At Penn State, my cohort was comprised of trade union organizers from Brazil, India, South Korea, Germany and the U.S. Under the umbrella of the Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE), our cohort helped to launch a union authorization card drive, the first step in calling for a unionization election, in an effort to secure better pay, health benefits, and protections for the 3,500 graduate employees at Penn State.
I have since returned to Anaheim, to bring together workers and faith-based communities in the common cause of justice. When I’m not fighting for worker’s rights, I enjoy painting, learning about Frida Kahlo and spending time with my lovely daughter Alessandra.
You can get in contact with me through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to working with you all to advance the cause of justice in our congregations and workplaces!