Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers

Octavio Velarde


Octavio Velarde is an associate with our Firm and has a background in union organizing throughout California

Octavio Velarde comes to SSDS from UC Irvine School of Law with more than a decade of experience in the labor movement.

Octavio first became involved in labor as an undergraduate at Pomona College when he was accepted as an AFL-CIO intern working with SEIU.  There, he learned firsthand how labor unions empower their members to advocate for their own rights through community engagement and worksite organizing. That experience and understanding guided his subsequent involvement with Unite Here as a worker leader where he became actively involved in organizing Southern California hospitality workers.

Over the course of the next ten years, Octavio dedicated his career to the labor movement.  He worked in multiple capacities at different labor unions, including SEIU and AFSCME.  He has experience with both internal and external campaigns, in the public and private sectors, and with a range of workers including professional, hospitality and healthcare workers.

In his various roles as lead organizer and union representative, Octavio bargained directly with employers such as the University of California and Dignity Health. He has overseen contract enforcement, strategically negotiated stipulated election agreements, implemented neutrality agreements, and submitted grievances to arbitration.  He also filed unlawful labor practice charges and engaged in fact-finding with PERB, and prepared workers for hearings before the NLRB.

In each position, Octavio worked tirelessly to advocate for equity and justice in the workplace.   Some of his most memorable campaigns include winning a traditional board election at Parkview Community Hospital in Riverside, California, despite intense employer opposition.  At Marion Medical Center in Santa Maria, almost 9 out of 10 workers voted in favor of union representation.

As a law student, Octavio continued his community advocacy as a Public Service Scholar.  There, he was a board member of the National Lawyers Guild and the Latinx Law Student Association, and editor with the UC Irvine Law Review.   Additionally, he volunteered with the Clean Slate Clinic and Workers’ Rights Clinic at the Legal Aid Society of Orange County.  During his clinic with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Octavio investigated claims and represented tenants and workers at mediation.  He also interned with the Honorable Dean D. Pregerson at the Central District of California as well as at the NLRB.

Octavio has also been a long-standing member of Pride at Work.