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Rick Bates is a Research and Policy Analyst who works for UNITE HERE Local 30, a labor union representing more than 6,000 workers in San Diego’s hotel and hospitality industries. Additionally, Rick is a public ballot member of the central committee of the San Diego County Democratic Party, delegate to the California Democratic Party Convention, and is a transit-jobs-and-housing activist who serves as a board member of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation and Vice Chair of the San Diego Green New Deal Alliance.

In 2010, Rick was introduced to organized labor as a restaurant worker at the then-newly opened Hilton San Diego Bayfront - next to the Convention Center in Downtown San Diego. The union representing the hotel workers was UNITE HERE Local 30, a burgeoning social justice labor union that would nearly double in size within the next five years (3,500 – 6,000 members). It was at this behemoth 1,200 room big-box hotel that Rick learned of the power that workers have in organizing to affect their own destiny, no matter how big their employer. Local 30 took notice of Rick’s leadership among his coworkers and quickly recruited him as one of the hotel’s union shop stewards. Then by October of 2011, Rick was brought on staff as a full-time union organizer with UNITE HERE Local 30.

In 2015, Rick transitioned into the research department for Local 30 where he currently tracks and monitors the regional hotel market as well as hotel development projects and transactions. His scope of work also rounds to include coalition building and advocacy for equity and quality of life policies that aim to lift working families, especially those in immigrant and BIPOC communities. It was while Rick was studying the housing equity component and traffic impacts of a large Mission Valley mixed-use redevelopment project in 2015 that he met transit-icon Duncan McFetridge and teamed up with the Cleveland National Forest Foundation to demand a transit-jobs-housing approach to new project development in the San Diego region.

Over the years, Rick built some foundations and formed valuable partnerships and alliances with community groups and environmental organizations through collaborative works such as Build Better San Diego, Quality of Life Coalition, and ReWild Mission Bay. Most recently, Rick became Vice Chair of the Steering Committee of the San Diego Green New Deal Alliance. Arguably the most consequential group he has ever been a part of, the San Diego Green New Deal Alliance (SDGNDA) sets out with a mission to bring our region to zero carbon status by 2035. Everything that Rick has ever learned with his time in the labor movement and his alliances with social justice and environmental movements will be called upon as he works with his SDGNDA colleagues to lead our region in transitioning away from a fossil fuel economy.


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