For Oona Adams, social justice advocacy is in her blood. Her great grandfather was a garment worker and a union organizer who lead the struggle for the 8-hour workday. Her mother was a civil rights activist. It was in Western Massachusetts that Oona then began her career with organized labor as an intern for the Building Trades while working on her graduate degree at the University of Massachusetts. She was hired by the Laborers Union as an organizer in 1998, organizing highway workers throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. She moved to NYC in 2002 to work with Laborers’ Local 79 and became LIUNA’s Eastern Region Organizing Fund’s Research Director in 2010. She is proud to be fighting for a union that is known for its strong commitment to social justice. As Oona puts it, “the Laborers are committed to representing the full needs of our members – not just at their place of work, but also in their communities. We recognize that our members have rights beyond the workplace such as immigration rights, a right to housing, and a right to healthcare.”
Oona got vocal with VOCAL through the Real Affordability for All Coalition (RAFA). The coalition is trying to build a NYC that is affordable and accessible for everyone. RAFA is a collaboration between construction unions and housing and advocacy-based organizations. Together they work to promote policies that create both affordable housing and union jobs. According to Oona, “Despite making solid wages, our members are finding themselves being priced out of neighborhoods that they grew up in, where they live, where their children go to school. They know that if it’s happening for them, it is even worse for many of their neighbors who don’t have Union jobs. Affordable housing is a crisis for our membership and a crisis for our city.”
Oona works to build a stronger social justice movement by coordinating the common goals and interests of both labor and community-based organizations. She believes in VOCAL as a positive conduit for change.
“Oona understands what it means to be a family. She stands up and gets VOCAL for union members, like me. She isn’t afraid to believe in us and give us another chance. In other words, she gets what it means to be a part of VOCAL. We are in this together.”
– Brian Pearson, VOCAL-NY Leader
Meet Oona at our She’s So VOCAL Gala on June 18th. Please buy your tickets now for this special event celebrating women, like Oona, who have dedicated their lives and careers to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the drug war, and mass incarceration.
You can also toast the accomplishments of Oona, and our other women leaders by sponsoring the event or buying a journal ad in their honor.