LCLAA History


LCLAA’s roots
5The 1950’s brought many Latino activists to the forefront of the civil rights movement. These trade unionists struggled to open the doors of opportunity for Latinos. They fundamentally believed that through the labor movement and the electoral process, Latinos would be able to strive for social dignity, economic equality, access to the political process and a higher quality of life for every Latino working family.

2These ideals became part of the “American Dream.” With this dream in mind, Latino trade unionists from throughout the U.S. and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico convened and made a commitment to promote the social, economic and political progress of the Latino community. In 1972 they founded the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA). This organization would devote itself to making the American dream a reality for all working people. It aimed to meet those goals by working collaboratively to empower Latinos in unions and help strengthen the labor movement by educating Latino and immigrant workers about the role of unionization in achieving just and safe workplaces.

1Since its inception in 1972, LCLAA has remained a grassroots organization driven and directed by Latino labor leaders who understand the importance of unionization in helping workers secure rights and protections on the job, empowering them to become voices for justice and change in their communities. We are committed to the growth and progress of the labor movement and the Latino community. This commitment combined with the relentless work ethic of our chapters and leaders has helped LCLAA play a major role in the historic elections of Latinos at all levels of government.  LCLAA has made it its mission to transmit the assets of the Latino community to the labor movement, the government and beyond. As a result, from local city mayors to Federal Congressional positions, Latinos are now better represented in the political life of this country. 

Maria Portalatin (AFT)- co-founder and National Secretary-TreasurerOur growth is attributed to the courageous and devoted men and women that sought a better future for working families, ascended through the union ranks and used their leverage to help Latino workers nationwide assert their right to leadership and representation.


LCLAA has remained on firm ground by bringing unity where there was division and providing a voice to fight the injustice that prevailed in our community’s silence.  We continue the fight for quality jobs with living wages and the right to organize in the workplace without the fear of retribution.  We are committed to achieving immigration reform because without it we are failing to advance the rights of all workers. We will embrace victories but will remain vigilant because challenges will continue to arise. As always, however, we will be ready to confront them.

Linda Chavez-Thompson, AFL-CIO Executive VP Emeritus and former LCLAA Board MemberLCLAA’s work has ranged from marching for union recognition in our workplaces to advocating in Congress for a range of issues that affect working families. It has rallied for healthcare reform, immigration reform, workers’ rights for all, and quality jobs that protect our workers and our environment.  Through these fights, it has encountered tremendous resistance but it has always looked after the well-being of the Latino community, holding no regard for the size of the battles ahead.