During Hispanic Heritage Month, the AFL-CIO and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) will be profiling past and present leaders in the intersecting movements to protect and expand the rights of Hispanics, Latinos and working families. We'll highlight both important leaders of the past and those who are continuing the legacy of those strong leaders who laid the foundation for the present. Today, we take a look at Henry Garrido.
Garrido is currently the executive director of AFSCME District Council 37 and a member of the New York chapter of LCLAA. He describes the difference unions make in the lives of Hispanic and Latino working people:
I was born in the Dominican Republic. My mother and I moved to the United States when I was 15. When we arrived, my mother began working at a garment factory and became a union member with UNITE HERE. Every pay day, I remember waiting for her to come home because it was standard practice for the factory owners to call immigration officials to deport the large number of undocumented employees they would hire. For the factory owners, it was cheaper to pay a $5,000 fine rather than pay the undocumented workers their salaries. Even though my mother was a citizen, I would worry that something might happen to her during the raids. Luckily, nothing ever did.
When my mother arrived home, the first thing she said to me was, ‘We have to go to the union office to report the raid and collect my paycheck.’ Quickly, I came to associate unions as a place where workers came together to seek justice in the workplace. It became my understanding that unions were a mechanism for workers to fight for their rights and upward mobility.
Join us in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month at the AFL-CIO on Sept. 21, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Click here to RSVP.