Rafael Cabrera

Administrative Clerk, City of L.A. Cultural Affairs

You’d be hard pressed to find someone more focused on the concept of “giving back” than 53-year-old Rafael Cabrera. A regular at Local 3090 meetings, Cabrera works as an administrative clerk in the City of Los Angeles’ Cultural Affairs division.

Cabrera runs the logistical side of afterschool arts programming based out of his department’s Lincoln Heights facility. They offer programming in subjects like poetry, music and reading comprehension. Despite being on the job for less than a year, he’s already seeing the fruits of his labor, namely how his work is helping local residents.

“We’re trying to help children, keep them off the streets doing something positive and encouraging,” he said. “It’s also affordable to low income parents and right here in Lincoln Heights where many of them live.”

Cabrera, who holds a certificate in labor studies, was previously active in the IBEW Local 18 while working for the City’s Department of Water and Power. He explained that he appreciates his current union working to reach out and energize members during an important time, specifically citing the recent visit to the AFSCME offices by the Reverend Jesse Jackson..

“It was pretty exciting,” he said. “Right now we need to understand how serious it is. Unions can lose so much with what’s going on with politics and the Supreme Court. We need more people to participate and invest. I appreciate the my union is going out and trying to get that done and not just saying it.”

Outside of work, one of Cabrera’s deepest passions is distance running. He’s a member of the Midnight Mission Running Club. The local running club is composed of an eclectic group of Angelenos that brings together judges, law students, public defenders and even homeless people from Skid Row. The group is the subject of a new documentary film called “Skid Row Marathon” that has been making the rounds at film festivals across the country.

“It all ties in with union membership and finding ways to give back to the community,” Cabrera said.

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"What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can't afford to buy a hamburger?"

— Martin Luther King Jr.

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