Meet Rusty

Rusty Hicks is a labor leader and organizer, classroom educator and military veteran with a proven track record of delivering real results for real people.   

Rusty was raised by a single mother who struggled to put food on the table and keep a roof overhead. When he was 11 years old, he met his father for the first time as he sat in a Texas prison serving time for addiction related crimes. Growing up, Rusty learned firsthand the values of hard work, service and sacrifice - working class values that inform his work today.           

Labor Leader and Organizer

For more than a decade, Rusty served as both President and Political Director of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor - one of the Nation's most vibrant and diverse Labor Movements representing 300 local unions and 800,000 hardworking women and men. 

He helped lead a successful campaign to raise the wages of nearly one million workers and pass a progressive ballot measure to build more affordable housing and create good jobs for local workers. 

A believer in the power of a second chance, Rusty built a program to help formerly incarcerated workers rejoin the workforce and secure a good union job. Rusty has a proven track record of standing up for working people on the job, in the community, and at the ballot box to improve the lives and uplift the voices of all workers.

Classroom Educator

At 14-years old, Rusty attended his father’s graduation when he earned a high school diploma while incarcerated. This moment had a profound impact on them both. 

Nearly 30 years later, Rusty serves as an Associate Professor at College of the Redwoods and teaches American Government to incarcerated students at Pelican Bay State Prison. Each week, he brings more than 20 years of firsthand experience to the classroom to share the story of our Nation's founding, and the many challenges and opportunities we face. This work informs Rusty's belief in the power of a second chance and a quality education for all. 

Military Veteran

For more than 10 years, Rusty served as an Intelligence Officer in the United States Navy Reserve. In 2013, he completed a one-year deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where he supported joint Village Stability Operations across the country. For his service, he was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. This experience reaffirmed Rusty's dedication to service and a deep understanding of the needs of Veterans, Servicemembers and their families both at home and abroad.  

Rusty also serves as Chair of the California Democratic Party and lives in Arcata, California with his wife, Sandra, and their chocolate Labrador, Charlie. 

Rusty, Sandra, and Charlie in the Arcata Community Forest.