Sections

Top labor leader Héctor Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU, dead at 57

Hector Figueroa was president of 32BJ SEIU, one of the city’s largest and most powerful labor unions.
Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:

One of the city’s most powerful labor leaders died Thursday night.

Héctor Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU and resident of Jackson Heights, Queens, suffered a heart attack. He was 57.

“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. 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,” 32BJ said in a statement. “In his many years of service to our union, to the labor movement, and to our communities, he consistently joined together a clear vision about the empowerment of working people with compassion and energy. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Deidre, his children Eric and Elena, and the rest of his family, as well as to all those in our 32BJ family and beyond who forged strong bonds of camaraderie with Héctor over the years. Details about memorial plans will be forthcoming.”

With nearly 163,000 members in 11 states, 32BJ is the largest property service union in the country representing doormen, window cleaners, superintendents and maintenance workers, cleaners, posters and security guard.

Figueroa, who was elected president in 2012, was at the forefront of the airport worker’s years-long campaign leading rallies, marches, sit-ins and strikes for fair wages and benefits. He was a key figure in the borough’s battle for immigrant rights and he was a supporter of Amazon’s planned HQ2 campus in Long Island City with its promise of 25,000 jobs.

“It’s impossible to put into words what Héctor meant to the men and women of 32BJ SEIU, to working people and to the labor movement. He bound us all together. His was always a voice on empathy, of conviction, of principle,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Héctor embodied the word ‘solidarity.’ His love of 32BJ SEIU ran deep, but you’d be just as likely to see him on the picket line with fast food workers and taxi drivers as you would with the custodians, service workers and doormen he represented. He fought just as doggedly for relief for people in Puerto Rico as he did for fair contracts here in New York City. If you were fighting for human dignity, then Héctor fought for you.”

Borough President Eric Adams called Figueroa “a fierce advocate for the workers he represented and a true champion for all working New Yorkers.”

“Héctor Figueroa was a giant who contributed immeasurably to our city, state, and country,” Adams said. “During his time at the helm of 32BJ SEIU, he made Brooklyn and New York City fairer and more equitable for working families... Deputy Borough President Lewis-Martin and I send our deepest condolences to his entire family and our brothers and sisters in labor. Let us honor his memory by continuing his mission of fighting for those who have not traditionally had an equal voice, for ensuring everyone can live and work in our society with dignity and respect.”

Figueroa was born into the labor movement in Ponce, Puerto Rico, where his parents were teachers. He moved to the United States in 1982 after participating in a student strike.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was heartbroken, calling Figueroa a “towering figure in politics and a hero of the labor community” who did untold good for working people of the state and the nation.

“Héctor was a champion for working people, minorities, the poor, the voiceless,” Cuomo said. “Together with Héctor, we enacted New York’s nation-leading $15 minimum wage – first for fast food workers and then for all workers – and the historic $19 minimum wage for airport workers just last year. Héctor fought for and won fairer contracts for his 163,000 members, ensuring working women and men have the protections they need at a time when hard-earned labor rights are under attack on the national level. Héctor was an indefatigable force in our fight against Trump’s un-American assault on immigrant communities and a fierce defender of Puerto Rico. Sí, se puede my friend.”

Attorney General Letitia James called Figueroa a giant, a true fighter and hero of the people.

“Beyond his work to move our state and our country forward, Héctor was a true friend to all who knew him,” James said. “Deeply respected, kind, and compassionate, Héctor was a man of great integrity. My deepest condolences to his family, friends, and all of 32BJ. New York is a little darker today.”

This story first appeared on QNS.com, one of our sister publications.

Updated 2:12 pm, July 12, 2019
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:


Reasonable discourse

Old time Brooklyn from Slope says:
Unions forever
July 17, 9:52 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: