Connie Rivera Organizes Everyone Wherever She Goes

September 2014

Connie Rivera’s mother went to nursing school, but didn’t finish. Still, as the neighborhood healer she gave shots, set bones and instilled in Rivera an obligation of service. Rivera’s dad loved his Teamsters union. By season he canned tomatoes or picked cherries. He marched with Cesar Chavez. Rivera’s organizing talents showed up early, when she roused her non-union restaurant coworkers to demand better working conditions. They won. She got fired. Only after joining AFL-CIO’s internship program did she realize she could make organizing her career of service.

With UFCW, Rivera helped pioneer comprehensive organizing that involved the whole community, not just workers, on the Campaign for Dignity to unionize the first Mexican supermarket chain to move into the US after NAFTA. She went on to organize laundry workers, meat cutters and pharmacists. After she married UC Riverside professor Anthony Macias, she chose to stay home to raise good little labor activists, including Paloma, 14, who represents her classmates’ grievances to the school principal and urged Rivera to become an Organizer again with UNAC/UHCP. Rivera still believes that unions are the best way for workers to improve their own lives and those who come after them. Her son Anand is 9.