Issued March 26, 2017
WASHINGTON—SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement on the passing Saturday of former SEIU United Service Workers-West (USWW) president Mike Garcia:
“The movement for economic and social justice has lost one of our most courageous leaders. Mike Garcia was one of the driving forces of the Justice for Janitors movement and a tireless warrior for the rights of immigrants everywhere. We have been friends for nearly 40 years, and his drive and passion to make a difference in the lives of working people was inspirational. The memory of him leading a march, civil disobedience or strike, with a megaphone in his hand, a smile on his face and a glint in his eye will always be a reminder of the power working families have when we join together.
“Mike led the historic strike in Los Angeles in 2000—with workers at 500 worksites walking off the job for three weeks—that restored the lost power to the janitors, and later used that power to win organizing rights for the janitors in Orange County.
“He believed that unity—across industries, geographies, and races—leads to the power to make change. He brought janitors from the Bay Area and Los Angeles into one union, reached out to unite airport workers, and launched SOULA, a campaign to bring Los Angeles security officers—mostly African-Americans—into the union. Working together with community advocates across the state, he built today’s SEIU-United Service Workers West, which represents more than 40,000 janitors, security officers, and airport workers across California and continues to fight for justice for all working people.”
“Our condolences go out to Mike’s wife Gloria and their entire family, and all his brothers and sisters at USWW and across SEIU.
“Mike’s leadership, passion and dedication made SEIU a better, bolder and stronger union. His legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of SEIU members everywhere.”