Teamsters Local 700 Trustee and Assistant Business Agent Hector Hernandez was re-elected as Trustee of the Teamsters National Hispanic Caucus (TNHC) during the TNHC biannual conference. The TNHC Executive Board was sworn in for a two-year term on Saturday, July 30 during the last day of the conference in Atlantic City, N.J. Hector also serves as President of the Chicago Teamsters Hispanic Caucus.
George Miranda was re-elected as President of the THNC and Ron Herrera was re-appointed as Caucus Executive Director. Also re-elected for two-year terms were Secretary-Treasurer Ruben Torres, Recording Secretary Jesse Miranda, 1st Vice President Maria Perez, 2nd Vice President Jaime Vazquez and Trustees Olga Gonzales, Oscar Gonzales, Alexis Rodriguez and Ashley Alvarado.
“I am honored to accept this important responsibility as your President for the Teamsters National Hispanic Caucus,” said Miranda. “I am so proud to represent such an important block of activists and labor leaders within this caucus. It will be a privilege to serve you for the next two years.”
The election was preceded by remarks heard by the more than 150 delegates in attendance from New Jersey Assemblywoman Annette Quijano from the 20th Legislative District, which includes many municipalities in Union County, N.J.
“It is so important that Hispanic people are civically engaged in all levels of government and public life,” said Assemblywoman Quijano. “We can represent our interests best when we are working in our town halls, in our communities, building positive relationships and being active so people don’t think they can take us for granted.”
David Rodriguez, a Teamster and Chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Latino Caucus, echoed those sentiments.
“We need Latinos running for office in Pennsylvania and all over this country,” said Rodriguez. “Our issues are American issues and can help elevate working class people. Whether it is raising the minimum wage, fighting for health care for everyone or ensuring that good jobs are accessible, Hispanic people are on the front lines.”
Ashley Alvarado, President of Local 601 in Stockton, Calif. discussed the Teamsters efforts to organize and elevate Hispanic workers at Taylor Farms and gave an update on efforts to organize the company.
“We will not be giving up this fight,” said Alvarado. “We are committed to what our goal has been all along: to get this company to treat workers with dignity and respect, to maintain a safe physical and emotional working environment and to let workers at their plant in Tracy, Calif. form a union with the Teamsters.”
Delegates were mesmerized as they heard a testimony from Jose Vega, a worker at Taylor Farms who was terminated from Taylor Farms for union activity and Mike Castro, an organizer on the ground in Tracy. Delegates pledged to take action by leafleting at stores that use Taylor Farms as a supplier.
Eddie Rosario, President of GCIU Local 4, spoke of the power of unions to combat poverty among immigrant populations.
“There are far too many labor issues that disproportionately affect Hispanic people,” said Rosario. “We are working minimum wage jobs, suffering workplace injuries and are denied access to unions at higher rates than other individuals in the United States. We must never forget that our contributions to this country entitle us to have the same rights and same treatment as all other workers. We must use our perspective, our money and our voice to increase our influence in these areas.”
The California, Chicago, Colorado, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and Pennsylvania chapters of the TNHC gave chapter reports on notable activities that have occurred within their caucuses over the past two years. A financial report for the national THNC was delivered.
Delegates began the afternoon by continuing to commit their values into action for workers at Taylor Farms and celebrated the conclusion of another successful Hispanic caucus with a dinner and a dance.
The next national meeting of the Teamsters National Hispanic Caucus will be hosted by Local 901 and will take place in 2018 in San Juan, P.R.