The sudden, and unfortunate, death of Hector Figueroa in 2019 left the president of 32BJ position early. Kyle Bragg filled that seat that July and was re-elected this month.
Bragg had served as the union secretary-treasurer and has been a member of the union for more than 35 years. Labor and organizing is in his blood. His father was the vice president and organizer for 1199 SEIU from the 1960s to the early 1980s.
“I remember when I was 11 years old my brothers and I were at the front of a huge march in Washington Square Park with health care workers,” Bragg said. “We turned a corner and found a wall of police and when my brothers and I hesitated, my father told us not to stop. When we walked up to them, the police parted because we had a permit. It was the first time I remember realizing just how much power workers have when we unite and stand together for change.”
Bragg picked up where his father left off. At 16, he organized his first strike and became active as a shop steward of 1199 while still a student at York College of City University. Kyle is partly responsible for the merger with Local 32E, adding 9,000 Bronx and Westchester members to the union, in 2001.
Under his leadership, the union grew its Residential Division to 35,000 members in New York City, Westchester County, Long Island and New Jersey. Bragg also led 32BJ’s victory with the 2014 residential contract where members won an 11% raise over four years. The contract includes increased pension contributions from employers and no givebacks. He also scored a victory for Bronx residential members in 2015 with a new contract that raised salaries, kept benefits, and won a new 401k contribution from employers that started in the contract’s second year.
Although he’s the union’s president, Bragg serves in many areas. He’s the chair of 32BJ’s social and economic justice committee, he’s on the executive board of the National African American Caucus of SEIU and serves on the international union’s first Racial Justice Task Force. He previously served on the Security Guard Council of New York State.
The Queens resident, and husband and father of three children, regularly engages in community work. Bragg is a board member of Community Board 13 in Queens. He is a member of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, a member of the Board of Directors of the Southern Queens Park Association, and a board member and mentor at Our Brothers Guardian, a youth program in Queens. He’s also a member of the New York Charter Revision Commission, which reviews New York City’s constitution.
Bragg said he was proud of his service and proud of its praise.
“As a Black leader of a union of more than 175,000 members who are majority people of color and immigrant, I am so proud to be honored by the Amsterdam News as part of the paper’s annual celebration of labor, along with my union family Randy Weingarten, Mark Cannizzaro and the legendary activist and actor Harry Belafonte. At the onset of the pandemic, our members—security officers, doormen, porters, cleaners, airport workers—were all designated as essential workers, and we have worked hard throughout this difficult period to keep them healthy and safe as they risked their lives every day to keep New Yorkers safe and the city running,” stated Bragg.