In Review: 2022 Labor’s Choice Awards

Dillon Savory / June 3, 2022 /

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. — Last month, the Fresno-Madera-Tulare-Kings Central Labor Council hosted its first annual Labor’s Choice Awards during a golden evening at Toca Madera Winery just above the San Joaquin River. Labor leaders, community leaders, and elected officials came together to celebrate some the most powerful and iconic voices at the forefront of the movement, and recognize their commitment to helping all working people.

The honorees of the night were Nichole Trujillo-Rice, Rising Star Award; Mattie Thomas, Randy L. Ghan Labor Leadership Award; and Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula, Labor Champion Award. California Labor Icon Lorena Gonzalez was the program’s keynote speaker.

2022 Labor's Choice Awards

“Having mentors to encourage you like Kirk and Jacques makes all the difference. It’s a privilege to represent the workers of UFCW 8 and for all working people. … As any good organizer, I have an ask. My ask tonight is that all of you seek out a next person to mentor. To give an opportunity. To encourage, and to promote. Because without all of that help, I wouldn’t be where I am. And that’s exactly what we need. Seek out women. Seek out minorities. Seek out anyone willing to make a difference because there’s a ton of rising stars out there and our Labor movement depends on it.”

– Nichole Trujillo-Rice

“I didn’t prepare a speech as I’m not a big talker and I know some of you say that’s not true. Anyway, I do appreciate this award and I’m glad that all of you are all here to see it. I do enjoy working for the union, and as long as I’m around I will continue to work for the union. I wasn’t from a union family, but I became involved and it has become a big part of my life. I will hope more people will join the movement and get involved because we do need you. I’m thankful for the Central Labor Council and for the Randy Ghan award as I really miss him today. Randy was a great leader and a great friend of mine. Thank you.”

– Mattie Thomas

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and represent in our state capitol and to make sure that our workers have the protections and dignity that they deserve. … I am grateful for the Labor movement and our ability to make sure that our community’s voice is heard in our state capitol. It is not easy to make sure that resources are brought back from Sacramento and it only happens when you lock arms with your brothers and sisters in solidarity.”

– Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula

“I know this to be true – there is no law that can be passed or there is no regulation that can be put in place that will ever be as strong for workers as a union contract.”

– Lorena Gonzalez



Nichole Trujillo Rice currently serves as Political and Legislative Director for the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 8-Golden State (UFCW). She began working for UFCW in 2008 and has helped build political power for the local 8 membership and all working families from the OR boarder down to the grapevine. Nichole also serves as the Principal Officer of the North Valley Labor Federation and is an Executive Board member of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, San Joaquin-Calaveras Central Labor Council and FMTK Central Labor Council. Early in her career, she helped organize young workers throughout the State and co-founded the Young Workers of California. Nichole has served as President of Women Democrats of Sacramento County and went through the New Leaders Council fellowship (Sacramento Chapter) in 2017. She currently serves on the New Leader’s advisory board and is a staunch advocate for the organization to launch a Central Valley Chapter. In 2019 Nichole was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to the California Citizen’s Compensation Commission and continues to serve on that commission. Nichole lives in Auburn with her spouse Dustin Rice, a San Francisco Fire Fighter and member of IAFF Local 798 and two children, Ruby age 6 and Goldy age 3. She is an avid runner and lives by the motto: Solidarity Works!

Mattie Thomas has dedicated her life working to improving the community. She began that journey in service at Fresno Unified with Kirk Elementary School in 1968, and moved on to the Administration Office and retired after 32 years. During those years, Mattie was involved with school site councils, Parent-Teacher Associations, and since 1975, she has been an active and vocal member of California School Employees Association, Fresno Chapter 125. She has served as President of her local three times and has held various other posts included state appointments. Mattie continues to serve on the Central Labor Council’s executive board, where she has represented her union for more than 15 years. Mattie holds a strong commitment to serving the community in Political causes, also participating in the California State Association of Colored Women Clubs, Fresno Unlimited Lions Club, California Alliance for Retired Americans, and the Central Valley Progressive Club. 

Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula represents the 31st District in the Central Valley and is the first Latino physician elected to the California State Assembly. He proudly represents a district that includes 41 percent of the City of Fresno and all the rural cities and communities in Fresno County. Dr. Arambula serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services, overseeing a third of the state’s total budget.  As Chair, Dr. Arambula’s focus has been on improving access and affordability of quality health care services and ensuring the protection of safety net programs for working families. With his staunch commitment for working families, Assemblymember Arambula is the first state representative from the San Joaquin Valley to have a 100% voting record as scored by the California Labor Federation.

The Fresno-Madera-Tulare-Kings Counties would like to thank all of our guests, honorees and vendors for being part of this inaugural event. If you attended our event, please click here for a post-event survey.

A complete album of photos from the event is available to download on Flickr and our Facebook.