Washington D.C.- It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to SEIU’s 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. Hector dedicated his life to the promotion, protection and advancement of justice and equality for all workers. Born into the labor movement in Puerto Rico, where his mother and father worked as teachers and struggled to unionize, Hector was an innate leader and organizer. It was under his direction, and 24 years after his parent’s attempts to win collective bargaining rights for educators, that teachers on the island were finally able to join a union. He also served on the National Board of the National Institute for Latino Policy (formerly the Institute for Puerto Rican Policy), and helped forge alliances with Latino civil rights and labor.
His relentless commitment to workers, his passion for integrity, and above all, his resilience, led to many victories which protected workers and immigrants. It was under his leadership that the East Coast 32BJ passed legislation aimed at raising the minimum wage, increasing minimum hours, and shield immigrants from being targets of ICE. LCLAA will forever remember this tenacious man.
“I had the fortune to be on the frontlines with my dear brother, Hector Figueroa, whose passion for advancing workers’ rights, and conviction to fight for immigration reform were immeasurable,” said Yanira Merino, LCLAA National President. “Puerto Rico, where he was born, was always in his heart, as was his desire to see justice and equality prevail for his native island. His legacy will also cross borders, and workers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico alike, will carry on Hector’s commitment to a life free of oppression.”
“A man of this stature can never be forgotten. Hector Figueroa has left behind a trail for the labor movement to build upon,” said Aida Garcia, LCLAA Executive Vice-President. “Those of us who were lucky enough to have known him, will continue to look back upon his life as a source of inspiration to carry on the fight for racial, economic, and social justice for all.”
“There are people who come into this world to change the course of history, and my dear brother, Hector Figueroa was one of them,” said Hector Sanchez Barba, LCLAA Executive President. “During his tenure as President of 32BJ SEIU, he was able to grow the union by over 50,000 members; that’s leadership, it is inspiring others to be part of the change that our communities need. His memory will always serve as a beacon of light and hope during troubling and challenging times.”
“Hector was like a brother to me, we worked together many times and our efforts were aimed at organizing workers, and promoting a society of equality,” said Edgar DeJesus, LCLAA Member. “He helped shape the position of the Labor movement regarding NAFTA and Immigration Reform. He will be missed by me and many others that he leaves behind today.”
The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) is the leading national organization for Latino(a) workers and their families. LCLAA was born in 1972 out of the need to educate, organize and mobilize Latinos in the labor movement and has expanded its influence to organize Latinos in an effort to impact workers’ rights and their influence in the political process. LCLAA represents the interest of more than 2 million Latino workers in the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), The Change to Win Federation, Independent Unions and all its membership. Visit LCLAA on the web at www.lclaa.org, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram