32BJ SEIU (“32BJ”), founded in 1977, is the nation’s largest union of property service workers, with over 150,000 members in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Florida, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. It is extremely involved in Democratic politics along the east coast and aggressively pushes left-wing policy priorities.
32BJhas historically struggled to avoid corruption and controversy. When former president Mike Fishman was brought into leadership, 32BJ was considered “a shrinking, corruption-scarred local.” Specifically, Fishman “was brought into 32BJ as a trustee by SEIU leaders at a time when the union was hemorrhaging members and reeling from the reign of longtime president Gus Bevona, who famously earned a $450,000 salary and kept a penthouse apartment at the union’s headquarters.”
32BJ uses its influence to advocate for progressive policies and to support Democratic politicians. The line between traditional labor activities and support for progressive policies and politicians is often blurred. One profile noted, “32BJ is involved in field services, contracts, grievances, community affairs, research, and legal aid. Its executives meet with city leaders and endorse political candidates.”
The union had a reported membership of 154,529 as of the end of 2017.
32BJ introduced its Green Supers program, which was intended to train its resident managers on environmentalist-supported operation procedures. 32BJ’s Shortman Training Fund was granted nearly $3 million by the U.S. Department of Labor as part of President Obama’s stimulus initiative, earning the endorsement of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I, now D). 32BJ’s president at the time, Mike Fishman, noted “[m]aking the Big Apple green starts with recognizing the vital role of building service workers.”
In 2017, 32BJ demanded higher wages for New Jersey airport workers. However, the organization took the position of not only demanding a wage level of $17.98 per hour, even higher than the $15 demanded by SEIU’s national “Fight for $15” campaign. In the fall of 2018, these efforts resulted in an even higher minimum wage of $19 per hour, to be phased in by 2023. Figueroa has hailed the SEIU’s campaign, calling “Fight for $15” an example of unions’ “renewed militancy.”
32BJ has also become increasingly engaged on immigration issues during the Presidency of Donald Trump. 32BJ’s president issued a scathing statement in September 2017 following President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program. Figueroa’s statement alleged illegal immigrants granted leave to remain under DACA would be automatically deported following the President’s statement and described the decision as “a disgusting act of cowardice and cruelty.” He went on to note “[r]epealing DACA is a low in a Presidency marked by discrimination and the removal of rights for people of color . . . the President should be embarrassed that he does not have the courage to look these young people in the eye and tell them that he is tearing them away from the only country they’ve ever known.”
32BJ also publicly opposed the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Without offering any specifics, Figeuroa alleged that Kavanaugh “will be a vote in favor of the wealthy and powerful and could support rulings that take away our unions, leave millions without healthcare and limit who can vote.”
32BJ’s extensive political involvement includes a long list of endorsements for progressive Democrats along the east coast. In 2018, 32BJ congratulated “progressive candidate” victories in Connecticut; issued detailed voter guides in Pennsylvania, endorsed candidates in over 200 races, nearly all of whom were Democrats; issued a detailed voter guide in Florida, where it endorsed Democrats Andrew Gillum for Governor, Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz for U.S. Congress; and issued a voter guide for Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C., which similarly endorsed nearly all left-wing candidates and Democrats.
Despite the extensive legal and ethical challenges experienced by Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), 32BJ offered a full-throated endorsement during the 2018-midterm elections.  The statement from New Jersey State Director Kevin Brown does not recognize in any way the Senator’s well-documented ethical lapses.
Federal tax returns filed by 32BJ in 2016 showed total revenue of $106,033,001 and expenditures of $106,074,414. The 2016 total revenue was above the 2015 amount of $98,002,182. The expenditures of 32BJ similarly increased from the previous year’s total of $101,792,654.
Membership dues accounted for $97,267,298 of total revenue. Miscellaneous revenue included almost one million dollars in litigation judgments. Salaries, other compensation, and employee benefits accounted for $56,084,103 of the expenditures, or well over half of the organization’s expenses. 32BJ showed a fund balance of $17,010,331, an increase of almost $160,000 from the previous year.
The listing of Compensation of Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, Highest Compensated Employees, and Independent Contractors includes 39 individuals earning at least six-figure reportable compensation, which often comes on top of reportable compensation from related organizations. Included in the list are the following individuals:
32BJ SEIU Leadership
|Name||Reportable Compensation||Estimated Amount of Other Compensation||Total Compensation|
|Executive Vice President||Larry Engelstein||$200,206||$56,216||$256,422|
|Secretary Treasurer||Kyle Bragg||$207,123||$61,185||$268,308|
|Chief of Staff||Laura Caruso||$176,273||$52,070||$228,343|
|Vice President||Shirley Aldebol||$144,637||$49,177||$193,814|
|Vice President||Kevin Brown||$146,688||$49,177||$195,865|
|Vice President||James Contreras||$147,796||$43,834||$191,630|
|Vice President||Robert Hill||$170,736||$53,253||$223,989|
|Vice President||Denis Johnston||$143,388||$49,177||$192,565|
|Vice President||Gabriel Morgan||$172,230||$4,2518||$214,748|
|Vice President||Roxana Rivera||$135,041||$37,745||$172,786|
|Vice President||John Santos||$146,531||$49,177||$195,708|
|Deputy General Counsel||Brent Garren||$181,008||$52,032||$233,040|
|Associate General Counsel||Katchen Locke||$156,940||$47,820||$204,760|
|Assistant General Counsel||Andrew Strom||$156,494||$47,915||$204,409|
|Deputy Director for Bargaining||Elizabeth Baker||$155,284||$47,890||$203,174|
|Associate General Counsel||Jessica Ochs||$154,272||$47,385||$201,657|
President and Top Officials
32BJ president Hector Figueroa was first elected to lead 32BJ in 2012. He has been involved with the organization since 1999 and has made the union aggressively political including by establishing the American Dream Fund, the organization’s political action fund. He has admitted that the Fight for $15 is more of a political campaign than a union campaign and has criticized the Democratic Party as being too dominated by corporate interests. He has argued the party needs to be “both socially liberal and progressive, and in economic terms liberal and progressive.” He is a member of the Democratic National Committee. In addition to his role with 32BJ, he serves on the boards of the National Institute for Latino Policy, Urban Green, the Working Families Party, and Good Jobs First. He also serves on the editorial board of the New Labor Forum.
Larry Engelstein serves as the organization’s executive vice president, which includes serving as director of collective bargaining and employer relations. Prior to his role with 32BJ, he was a labor lawyer and a community organizer in Chicago. In September 2016 he appeared alongside Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) to rally for janitors at Tufts University.
Kyle Bragg serves as secretary-treasurer. In addition, he serves as trustee of several 32BJ funds and as chair of the union’s social and economic justice committee. Bragg was instrumental in the passage of New York City Council Bills 1079 and 1080 in 2013, which created the position of Inspector General to oversee the Police Department’s “stop and frisk” policies, among others.
Lenore Friedlaender serves as assistant to the president. In that position, she engages as an activist in numerous progressive policy initiatives, including participating in the 2017 People’s Climate March in Washington D.C. and a 2017 rally against enforcement of immigration laws and the building of a wall along the southern United States border. In addition to her role with 32BJ, she serves on the Board of Directors for ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York, a labor organization formed in 2011 which merged New York Jobs with Justice with Urban Agenda.
The remaining twelve individuals on the leadership team serve as vice presidents.
Shirley Aldebol oversees 32BJ’s contract grievance center and schools division in the New York Metro area.
Kevin Brown serves as the New Jersey state director. In addition to his role with 32BJ, he serves on the boards of New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice and Bluewave New Jersey and as the co-chair of the political action committee of Working Families Alliance of New Jersey.
Juan Hernandez serves as 32BJ’s Connecticut District Leader.
Robert Hill directs 32BJ’s organizing program and leads the “Fight for Fair Economy” initiative in all 32BJ states.
Alison Hirsh serves as both a vice president and political director. In 2008 she served as Ohio Director for the Change to Win/SEIU campaign in support of President Obama. Prior to her role with Obama, she served as Chief of Staff to former New York State Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) and as the Policy and Legislative Director for the New York League of Conservation Voters. Hirsh was described as the “chief negotiator for the council’s Progressive Caucus in the horse-trading that will determine the next speaker [of the New York City Council].” This resulted in some raising apparent conflict of interest charges when one top labor official asked “[i]s she working for 32BJ, or is she working for the Progressive Caucus?”
Denis Johnston serves as the director of 32BJ’s security division. He also is the founder and president of the board of directors for Peace Works, a New Jersey nonprofit that “supports progressive change in the U.S.”
Gabe Morgan serves as Pennsylvania and Delaware state director. He has boasted of helping elect left-wing Democratic Mayors Jason Kenney of Philadelphia and Bill Peduto, of Pittsburgh respectively, along with left-wing city council members. He also serves on the National Board of the Working Families Party, representing Pennsylvania.
Manny Pastreich serves as 32BJ’s Taft-Hartley Benefit Fund trustee, which covers several pension, health benefit, training and legal funds. He claims to have become engaged in the political world as a college student by working on the presidential campaigns of former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis (D) and former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey (D-Nebraska).
Roxana Rivera serves as the New England director. She has been involved in protests of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts, going so far as to describe the immigration policies of the Trump Administration as a “nightmare” and bemoan “what license the Trump administration is giving to local ICE offices.” Prior to her work with 32BJ, she was active in efforts to undermine Proposition 187, a California initiative to make illegal aliens ineligible for public benefits.
John Santos is the New York Metro District division director and the Hudson Valley district director.
John Thacker serves as president of the 32BJ National Conference of Firemen and Oilers District. In 2014 he was appointed to serve on the Workforce Development Advisory Board by former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D).