Building Economic Power for Immigrant Workers: Union Organizing, Apprenticeships and Collective Bargaining

Labor organizing, apprenticeship programs and collective bargaining have long been key tools to improve economic conditions and opportunities for workers. Unions serve as important mechanisms for immigrant inclusion into our society and help building economic power through collective voice. In many fields, labor-led apprenticeship programs are the primary means through which workers build the skills and qualifications needed to access safe and well-regulated employment. Panelists from unions, worker centers and academia will discuss the trajectory of labor unions as spaces for immigrant inclusion and improved economic mobility, as well as how collective action and new forms of organizing and bargaining can serve and protect the economic interests of immigrant workers in the absence of public policies of integration.


  • Arturo Mendoza, Field Campaign Director, AFL-CIO National Organizing Department – Works with the Building Trades Unions in the Southwest U.S. on strategic organizing campaigns to organize recent immigrant construction workers.  Began career with the United Farm Workers Union as organizer for 14 years followed by several years as staff representative with the National Education Association.


  • Victor Narro, UCLA Labor Center, Project Director — At the UCLA Labor Center Victor Narro directs leadership programs immigrant workers, strategy and campaign support for worker centers and unions, and student internships. He is a professor for the Labor and Workplace Studies Program; adjunct faculty at UCLA School of Urban Planning; and Lecturer in Law at UCLA Law School; and he has co-authored several scholarly studies.
  • David Gornewicz, Ironworkers Association IWINTL, Assistant Director of Organizing (Assoc. Membership, Apprenticeship) — Member of the Iron Workers Local Union 272 Miami, FL since 1980 where he served as Apprenticeship Director, Organizer, President and Director of Organizing. Became International staff in 2006 and currently Assistant Director of Organizing. Served on Catholic Charities Legal Services Board of Directors (Miami, FL) from 1999 - 2006.
  • Rosemarie Molina, CLEAN Carwash Campaign Strategic Director - At CLEAN Rosemarie develops comprehensive strategies that steer a coalition effort partnering with the United Steelworkers to support carwash workers organizing to improve conditions in their workplaces and in their communities in Los Angeles.
  • Lorena Lopez, UNITE HERE Local 11 — Lorena Lopez is an organizing director for hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE Local 11. In the past 14 years she has successfully helped thousands of Southern California hotel workers from Santa Monica to Costa Mesa demand respect and better working conditions by organizing a union.