Teresa Romero Selected as First Woman President of United Farm Workers

By Negin Owliaei

Over the past several decades, United Farm Workers has changed the tenor of labor organizing for one of America’s most vulnerable groups of workers. Last month, the labor union added a new page to that history by selecting Teresa Romero as its new president. A veteran of UFW’s administrative staff, Romero will become the union’s first woman president. UFW also says she’ll be the first immigrant woman to head a national union.

Romero will take over for current president Arturo Rodriguez when he steps down later this year. When she does, she’ll become the third president in UFW history, following Rodriguez and famed UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez.

While she may not have formally led the union as president, civil rights activist Dolores Huerta co-founded the organization and played a key role in its development — in addition to coining their iconic “Sí se puede” slogan. Though Huerta stepped away from the union to start her own foundation, she continues to be one of the public faces associated with the farmworker justice movement.

Huerta was one of the organizers of the Delano grape boycott in the 1960s, building on the strike from Filipino workers on California’s grape farms. The boycott brought widespread attention to the poor pay and conditions of the workers in California’s fields, eventually gaining international momentum and forcing farms to improve their working conditions. Huerta also negotiated the first collective bargaining contract in the U.S. with an agricultural business.

In her time at UFW — and through her organizing work since left the union — Huerta has been vocal about the need for more women in labor leadership positions. “I am absolutely thrilled to see that we have a woman as the new president of the United Farm Workers,” Huerta told NBC News.

“About half of the people that work in the fields, maybe 40 percent, are women, often they are not really recognized…but they are a very, very, very big part not only of the workforce but also of the leadership of United Farm Workers.” Huerta also told NBC that the choice of Romero was a landmark decision “not just because she’s a woman because she’s so qualified…I think they have made a wonderful selection.”

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work