The United Farm Workers (UFW) National Executive Board unanimously voted this week to put forward union Secretary-Treasurer Teresa Romero to replace Arturo S. Rodríguez as UFW president. Following meetings with elected farm worker leaders at unionized companies from three states, they affirmed Romero as the first Latina and first immigrant woman to become president of a national union in the United States. Rodríguez is stepping down on December 20, after 45 years with the UFW, the last 25 leading the union and helping it survive and make meaningful progress for farm workers following César Chávez’s death in 1993.
As secretary-treasurer and chief administrative officer, Romero, a nine-year veteran of the UFW, has overseen the complex financial management, administrative, staff recruitment, personnel, fundraising, IT and social media operations of a far-flung organization involved in field organizing, contract bargaining and administration, legislative and legal affairs, and far-reaching international initiatives. She ran fundraising that collected $1 million to build the UFW’s new state-of-the-art 10,294-square foot facility in Salinas serving the largest concentration of unionized farm workers in the nation. Before joining the UFW, she managed a construction company and a law firm that helped workers with immigration and workers compensation claims.
“This is what César (Chávez) used to call ‘la causa.’ It’s not 8-5 work. You give your heart and life to it,” said Romero in an interview this week with NBC.
Romero is an immigrant from México who is proud of her U.S. citizenship and Mexican and Zapotecan heritage. She played an important part in many recent successful union efforts.
Rodríguez met with presidents, popes, governors and celebrities, but he was proudest meeting and working with local farm worker leaders at union companies, as well as farm workers from across the U.S. and around the world.
After stepping down on December 20, Rodríguez will continue working with the union as UFW president emeritus and help guide sister farm worker movement organizations as a member of their board of directors. Romero will stand for election as president at the UFW 21st Constitutional Convention in 2020.
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