The building for rent on South Long Beach Avenue wasn’t much to look at, but officers of the Compton Council of Classified Employees could see exciting new possibilities for their union. First, though, AFT Local 6119 would need to move a wall, install a floor, and paint.
How could the union, which represents 540 employees of the Compton Unified School District, pay for that kind of remodeling? Sweat equity.
Local 6119 leaders, members, and relatives have done most of the work: First Vice President Derek Hefflin, who works as a carpenter for the district, found the location and has put in the most time, including laying new flooring and moving walls; Chief Steward Rockey Thompson has created partitions and installed glass; and former President Ronnie Goins has painted inside and out. For Acting President Gwen Holmes, the high point of the project was knocking down a wall with a sledgehammer.
The previous union office was a storefront with no meeting room, parking or privacy. The local’s new office has a meeting room, is handicapped accessible, and has an office for the president and work areas for union officers.
Local 6119 took possession of the building in January and was ready to move in by late March. In June, members held their first meeting in the new building, followed by an office-warming party on the front patio.