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The New York Daily News Editorial Board 'Pays Tribute' To Hector Figueroa: What The Labor Leader Did To “Uplift & Dignify” Organized Labor In New York

Published Tuesday, July 16, 2019
by The New York Daily News Editorial Board
The New York Daily News Editorial Board 'Pays Tribute' To Hector Figueroa: What The Labor Leader Did To “Uplift & Dignify” Organized Labor In New York

One of the Nation’s most effective champions for hard-working New Yorkers, for hard-working Americans, is gone.

At a moment when Organized Labor’s voice is often muted, its vision myopic, Hector Figueroa spoke forcefully and saw clearly.

And, most important, won gains measured in fatter paychecks and better benefits.

32BJ Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which he led for seven years, where he worked for a quarter century, bargained doggedly for years on behalf of 160,000 Workers across 11 states: Window Cleaners, Doormen and Security Officers.

Figueroa took care of those workers.

But he was much more: the tip of the spear for oft-forgotten Laborers in all corners of the economy.

Men and women who handle baggage, push wheelchairs and do other vital work in our airports were, over a generation, forced to accept poverty-level wages and no benefits.

They tried to Unionize, but the deck was stacked.

Figueroa teamed with this newspaper in the Fight for Fair Pay Campaign.

He led demonstrations, wrote Op-Eds, pressured politicians.

The Workers are now on pace to earn $19 an hour by 2023.

At the start, many scoffed at the notion of a city- or statewide $15 per hour Minimum Wage.

Figueroa helped make it law, delivering thousands from poverty to decency.

Did the Labor Boss also want to grow his Union’s ranks?

Sure.

Was he tight with politicians, with fingerprints on legislation?

Unapologetically.

In the real world, power and progress walk in lockstep.

So, for Figueroa, did pragmatism.

When politicians who claimed to care about Working People kissed away Amazon’s Long Island City headquarters and its 25,000 to 40,000 jobs, Figueroa shredded them in these pages.

Just 57, Figueroa had decades of service ahead of him.

Those he uplifted and inspired must carry on his work.

It takes labor to honor Labor.

To Directly Access This New York Daily News Editorial, Go To: www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-edit-a-working-man-20190713-5tj5ntc3pzgu5erkkbvpxqvnsi-story.html?fbclid=IwAR3utZ7cnFlOVz6d8wQJuDgsS-4pYv75f8IDnXCRDvZOKPK11hrEJqfPUow

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