Cindy Estrada was elected to her second term as a UAW vice president in June 2014, at the union’s 36th Constitutional Convention. The longtime union organizer and social activist was first elected as vice president in 2010 and is the first Latina elected to serve as an International officer.
Estrada developed a passion for the labor movement while listening to her grandparents and other family members talk about their experiences working on farms and inside the factories of Detroit. Their stories were the first of many that have guided Estrada in her dedication to empower workers and show them they deserve a seat at the table to raise and resolve workplace problems and improve their working conditions.
After graduating from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in education, Estrada began organizing.
In 1995 Estrada was assigned to help organize workers at Mexican Industries in southwest Detroit. The organizing campaign resulted in one of the largest UAW victories for Spanish-speaking manufacturing workers. That win, along with other significant UAW organizing successes, led then-UAW President Stephen P. Yokich to appoint Estrada to the International’s organizing staff in 2000.
In 2006 then-UAW Vice President Terry Thurman appointed her as his top administrative assistant, overseeing the development and implementation of the UAW’s organizing strategy. Following the retirement of Thurman, then-UAW President Ron Gettelfinger appointed Estrada to serve as national organizing director.
In 2010, during Estrada’s first term as an International vice president, her responsibilities included directing the UAW Independents, Parts and Suppliers/Competitive Shop Department; Public Sector & Health Care Servicing Department, and the Women’s Department.
Estrada has proudly honored the reason Walter Reuther urged the establishment of an IPS department in 1968: to use the UAW’s parts worker density to establish minimum industry-wide compensation standards in IPS contracts. Estrada’s tenacious and steadfast vision has resulted in breakthrough agreements in the seating and other major auto component part industries. She has also focused on improving worker job security by creating links between the supplier industry and GM, Ford and Chrysler, as well as supporting innovative organizing efforts by parts workers who aren’t earning a living wage in partnership with other low-wage workers.
Upon her re-election as vice president in June 2014, UAW President Dennis Williams assigned Estrada to lead the General Motors Department, making her the first woman and first Latina to do so. In addition to the GM Department, she was also assigned to lead the Independents, Parts, and Suppliers (IPS) Department; and will continue to organize in those areas. She will also continue to lead the Women’s Department.