SEIU Mourns Loss Of Powerful Local Labor Leader Héctor Figueroa

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Hector Figueroa, President of the Service Employees International Union 32BJ, at a march in 2014. Figueroa passed away on July 12, 2019. Image credit: SFGate.com

One of the New York’s most powerful labor leader, Héctor Figueroa, died from a heart attack on Thursday night.

Héctor Figueroa, the powerful leader of 32BJ SEIU, passed away from a heart attack on Thursday night.



“It is with overwhelming sadness and a heavy heart that 32BJ mourns the unexpected passing of union president Héctor Figueroa last night in New York,” the union stated on Friday. “For those of us who have worked with him to further the well-being of our members and working people everywhere, and felt his personal and principled concern for our members, our staff and others this is a devastating loss.”



A native of Puerto Rico, according to his bio, Figueroa began his career in the union movement with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (now Workers United) in 1990, where he took part in several campaigns including efforts to organize textile workers at Fieldcrest Cannon in North Carolina and protests against NAFTA.

“In 1995, he joined SEIU’s Justice for Janitors campaign, followed by his work in Puerto Rico as SEIU Director for the island,” according to the union. “In February 1999, he was asked to serve as deputy trustee for 32BJ and was elected as Secretary-Treasurer of 32BJ in 2000.”

Figueroa was elected president of 32BJ in 2012, following a 2010 SEIU-imposed trusteeship at a time “when the union was hemorrhaging members and reeling from the reign of longtime President Gus Bevona, who famously earned a $450,000 salary and kept a penthouse apartment at the union’s headquarters.”



Today, under Figueroa’s and his predecessor Mike Fishman’s leadership, 32BJ SEIU can boast that it is “the largest property service union in the country, representing more than 163,000 window cleaners, airport workers, superintendents, doormen, maintenance workers, cleaners, porters and security officers in Washington, D.C. and 11 states including New York, where there are over 80,000 members,” according to the New York Daily News.

As a powerful labor leader in New York, statements from union leaders and politicians about Mr. Figueroa’s passing have been plentiful.

“It is impossible to overstate the loss of Hector to our SEIU family,” stated SEIU’s President Mary Kay Henry. “Hector has made a lasting impact on the heart and soul of our union, and he will be sorely missed.”

“I am beyond heartbroken to learn of the sudden passing of Héctor Figueroa – a towering figure in politics and a hero of the labor community who did untold good for the working people of this state and this nation,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated in a press release.

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