Exec. Director Cheryl Parisi Announces Retirement

An icon of the Los Angeles labor movement, longtime AFSCME District Council 36 Executive Director Cheryl Parisi has announced her retirement.  Parisi will be leaving at the end of May after serving AFSCME for 40 years, including at the helm of Council 36 for the last 16 years. 

Under Parisi's Council 36 leadership, the union became a flagship AFSCME affiliate, recognized for achievements in virtually every aspect of labor representation.  The ranks of Council 36 also grew from 14,000 members to nearly 25,000 during her tenure.

Parisi is one of a small handful of women leaders among AFSCME District Councils nationwide. Despite her 5"2 stature, she is widely recognized as a powerhouse warrior for workers. 

"For decades, Cheryl championed labor in Southern California," said Council 36 President Andy Jung. "She tirelessly mentored and cultivated new labor leaders and dedicated herself to fighting for equality and respect for all. She poured her heart and soul into the labor movement.  She poured her heart and soul into Council 36. 

While her departure is a great loss for our union, her unwaivering and fearless leadership has paved the way for many more successes in our union's future. She has fought and fought to build Council 36 into an example for all labor organizations.  Many leaders will follow in her footsteps, and all unions should look to her legacy as the bar by which to measure success." 

Rusty Hicks, the Secretary-Treasuer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, added, "Cheryl's dedication to her members are what helped accomplish wage increases, affordable health care, retirement security, improved work conditions, and long-lasting career opportunities to make a living in Los Angeles. She is a fearless, tenacious, and effective leader, and her legacy will live on in the Los Angeles Labor Movement."

Bob Schoonover, President of SEIU Local 721, has worked closely with Parisi over the years as a labor partner in City of LA negotiations. "Cheryl Parisi has hands-down been my number one ally from another union," he said. "Her knowledge about the City is unmatched and invaluable for Coalition bargaining. I am really going to miss her."

Born and raised in the working class City of Bell, Cheryl studied at UC Santa Cruz, where she received a BA in Politics.   She became an organizer with Council 36 soon afterward and was assigned to represent a largely female, “pink collar” workforce of low-wage librarians and clerical staff in the City of Los Angeles.  Her representation of these employees culminated in a historic achievement in 1983, with the creation of a first-of-its-kind landmark of “comparable worth” pay equity policies that sought to remedy glaring gender-based wage disparities. Cheryl more recently has served as Chair of the Coalition of LA City Unions, a partnership of six unions representing about 20,000 civilian employees that fights with community based allies for the restoration of City services slashed during the great recession.  

See Parisi's retirement announcement here, and stay tuned for more information about the Council 36 leadership transition, coming soon.