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.”
We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of SEIU 32BJ president Hector Figueroa. He was an inspiring leader who fought every day to help working men and women join together for better jobs and stronger communities. https://t.co/ntZj3Ryndm
— SEIU (@SEIU) July 12, 2019
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.
…On behalf of the Building and Construction Trades, we offer our sincere condolences to Hector’s family, loved ones and the entire 32BJ family.”
— NYC Building Trades (@NYCBldgTrades) July 12, 2019
- RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum’s Statement On The Passing Of 32BJ SEIU President Hector Figueroa
- Teamsters Statement on the Passing of Hector Figueroa