Mike Fishman has elected to step down as president of 32BJ to take over as executive vice president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), 32BJ’s parent body.
Fishman spoke to the AmNews about his experience at 32BJ and what he expects from his new position.
“It’s been probably the greatest experience of my life,” he said of his years as 32BJ president. “It was a great privilege that members had confidence in me. We have built an incredible organization together. When I was elected as president, I said that I work for all of you and I never forgot that.
“We kept it strong and built political power and made a difference for people inside and outside of the unions,” Fishman continued. “I feel very humbled by the experience. I plan to take that experience and the 2.2 million members of SEIU.”
Looking to replace Fishman at the president’s post is 32BJ Secretary-Treasurer Hector Figueroa. Fishman said Figueroa has helped build the union to be as strong as it can be. “I’m glad he’s taking on the challenge,” Fishman said. “He still has to win the election, but I think he will be a good president. He’s ready to run.”
Figueroa believes he’s ready as well. And he also talked about edification.
“I’ve helped build this union over the last 13 years with Mike,” said Figueroa to the AmNews. “Prior to that, I had 20 years of experience in the labor movement. Every experience I’ve had gives me the feeling that we will continue to make progress.”
Figueroa, a native of Puerto Rico, began his career as an organizing director for SEIU Puerto Rico, then became a union organizer for what’s now known as Workers’ United, eventually shifting to SEIU’s “Justice for Janitors” campaign in 1995. Figueroa became 32BJ secretary-treasurer in 2000 and director of 32BJ’s New York Metro District several years later.
Figueroa has labor in his blood and feels this is his time.
“We feel we are in good hands and we are ready for the next level of challenge. I share with Mike the same reasons and commitment to social and economic justice,” said Figueroa. “We are actually really similar. I feel that I can push this forward.”
According to the secretary-treasurer, the petitioning process for those who wish to run for the presidency of 32BJ begins June 23 and runs through July 23.