Kathryn Gottlieb

My self-description is definite life-long learner… honestly I hate using that expression because in the educational field it’s really overused, but it really does describe my approach to things. I’m just in awe of how many things there are to learn and know and be amazed by and that’s also part of what drives me as a teacher. I also want to be able to pass that on to my students…that kind of approach, that kind of “Wow” thing. And, I know this is weird but, you can get that same “Wow” from conjugating verbs as you can get from discovering herbs in a forest and I’m just out to convince my students of that.

To me (the union) relates to our dysfunctional, topsy-turvy norm that we settle for in our culture about who’s valuable for what they do. So a union is a chance for some sort of moderation and reminder or a call for sanity…

Airline Pilot/USAPA

Captain James Ray Cockpit 

Captain James Ray

Somebody once described my profession as months and months of sheer boredom interrupted by moments of sheer terror and it’s kind of a funny way to stamp it…. I still get a kick out of punching out of an overcast sky early in the morning with the sun coming up. I still get a challenge and satisfaction out of making a nice landing and making all of the thousands of decisions that it takes to fly, on a daily basis.

It’s an important business, the safety of our passengers is important and you need a highly qualified, highly motivated, highly educated individual to do this job and you know, I’m afraid we don’t have a lot of them coming out of college this way so if we can turn a corner, and we can make this job attractive again, and we will hopefully attract the best and the brightest to keep this profession going and to keep our skies safe.

Ballet Dancer/AGMA


Photo by Alexander Reneff-Olson

Kimberly Braylock

I love performances. I think I love performing more than anything else. I love being on stage. I feel like that’s where I have freedom. You are being put on the spotlight. I mean, you can be in the background and someone may not see you but, you’re putting yourself on a painting. You know, you’re putting yourself on stage to be seen by a huge audience and you know that you’re a part of something. You’re a part of a production that is being presented to people that want to either escape, you know, from their day to day lives, or they want to see something beautiful. I know I’m serving people because I am giving them something. So, that’s why I like being on stage and it’s the feeling..It’s like you and lights and the costumes and, everything about it…just makes me feel great.

I’m in a union because once I was hired into the San Francisco Ballet, every dancer that’s employed has to be part of the union. I was so shocked. I did not know much about unions… when I got hired into the Company, they were like, “You have to pay this much money to become a member of the union.” I was like, “What? Really?” You know, I guess I wasn’t that aware, [but] I understood it after it was explained to me. I’m one to ask questions so…What they told me right from the start was pretty much the union protects us and protects our rights and all those things so, that was good to hear; I was fine with it. Essentially because I was part of the negotiating committee for the union, because they were renegotiating our contract and I was just an apprentice and I was like, “Yeah! I’ll be a part of that” and, I learned quickly.

I have friends that are dancers, in companies that aren’t a part of the union and those dancers have to go through a lot of hell with their bodies, so, I’m completely grateful. I think with our union they created a contract with a lot of…I mean, a lot of ballet companies have A.G.M.A. but I guess for us, our contracts were really negotiated well. The San Francisco Ballet Company is a well known company so they have more financial ability to negotiate with the dancers but we have things in our contract that limits how many hours we can work. Like, if we override those hours we get paid extra. We get breaks every hour. There’s a whole list of benefits that we get and (physical) therapy and things that will keep our bodies intact. That’s the most important thing for me. I just see it as a huge benefit because our bodies are taken care of, which insures us for a longer dance career. We’re putting our bodies at risk and our bodies are our career.



We Are One: Stories of Work, Life, and Love

Almost anyone can be a member of a labor union. These photos and stories and many more are included in the book WE ARE ONE: Stories of Work, Life, and Love.  By Elizabeth Gottlieb     Foreword by Danny Glover

I had the tremendous honor of interviewing a wide variety of workers from coast to coast. Studs Terkel inspired but with self-portrait photography and illustrations, the book reveals a great diversity through the personal stories of union members. It is a celebration of people from all walks of life, exploring not only their workplaces but life events and ideas about success, inspiring reflection and thought amongst its readers: Ken Howard and Roberta Reardon, then co-presidents of the Screen Actors Guild, convey a bit about acting, Captain James Ray tells what it is like to be an airline pilot and race car driver, and how those occupations steer his parenting. Tony Clark informs us as a retired pro ball player that it’s harder to stay in the major leagues than it is to make it there in the first place. We hear from musicians, laborers, teachers, journalists, auto workers, nurses, a ballet dancer from the San Francisco Ballet, a West Virginia coal miner, filmmaker John Sayles, and many others. We Are One is an introduction to today’s labor movement from a personal perspective and a much needed answer to the all too common negative stereotype of unions.

Regarding We Are One: Stories of Work, Life, and Love:

“…The experiences of their lives, friendships, love, and meaningful work. These are the things that make life worth living and this book tells that story.”
-Danny Glover, from the Foreword

“This book gives us accounts from people we rarely hear from in policy debates…The set of views from a diverse group of people across the country will change how you think about union workers.”
-Dean Baker, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research

“We Are One: Stories of Work, Life and Love, takes us into workers’ lives, where we see the joys and challenges that shape who they are. Most of all, we see the dignity of work and the pride in a job well done that shine in everyone, from a professional athlete to a doorman, a filmmaker to a cookie-packer. We also see the difference a union makes in the lives of working families…”
-Richard L. Trumka, President, AFL-CIO

“We Are One: Stories of Work, Life, and Love…is quilt-like in its design, each story woven into a pattern around the questions posed in the interview, with most of the threads in bright colors…These are people we want to get to know.”

“The voices captured in this book are well worth listening to, and, as we learn about their lives, we understand a few important things in a fresh way that we thought we already knew.”

Jane LaTour, Labor Press

“…as a showcase for the benefits wrought by contemporary unions, it shines.”    Eleanor J.Bader, Truthout