On August 2018 during LCLAA’s 22nd Convention, held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Yanira Merino was elected as the first woman, and first formerly undocumented immigrant to lead LCLAA, a defining turning point in the history of this organization. Yanira Merino is a veteran labor and immigration rights leader and advocate. She was born in El Salvador and migrated to the U.S. in the 1990’s, at the time of an ongoing war in her home country. When she arrived to the U.S., she joined the labor movement in order to protest poverty wages, wage theft, discrimination and unsafe working conditions at a shrimp factory where she worked at in Los Angeles.
Ms. Merino and co-workers organized and led efforts to change these unfair practices. She has since worked in numerous organizing campaigns, immigration efforts as well as solidarity work with Central America. In 2000 she began serving as the National Immigration Coordinator for the Laborer’s International Union of North America (LiUNA).