Sam Tijerina • IUEC Local 31

via - Union Veterans Council

On August 13th, as Texas Union Veteran Sam Tijerina drove from Pasadena Tx to Dallas he had a lot on this mind. His thoughts wandered as he passed mile makers and towns, he thought about his young family at home and the life that having a union job has provided them.

“A union card changed my life and has allowed me to live with dignity,” Tijerina said that morning.

Sam was traveling to one of the largest acts of civil disobedience that the Texas Labor movement has seen in years. Skychef workers, who are contracted by American Airlines, planned a rally with UniteHere to advocate for raising the wage for these workers. “It was important to be part of the civil disobedience because my fellow veterans are affected by poor wages,” Tijerina went on to say, “there are an estimated 1.3 million veteran workers earn less than $15 an hour. It is disheartening to know my brothers and sisters have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet one job should be enough.” 

600 supporters showed up at the protest, including catering workers, union members from other airports, and local supporters like Sam. Tijerina was one of 58 people who were arrested while blocking traffic during the protest. 

WATCH A VIDEO OF THE ACTION HERE

Sam is an Elevator Constructor from Local 31 and a Marine veteran that served in Iraq during OIF II. The Marines taught him about selfless service and leading by example. “I know that it’s not just about me,” Tijerina said. “It's about fighting for everyone no matter what their situation is.” This is the same sentiment that Union Veterans Councils Will Attig delivered in a speech at the Texas AFL-CIO convention just a few weeks before as he announced the creation of a Texas UVC chapter “Leaders lead from the front and motivate others to take action.” Attig added, “Texas Union Vets are ready to take action to support the working people of this state.” 

Earlier this year Will Attig was among a group of union leaders and activists who were arrested at the US Capitol during the Government Shutdown when a quarter of a million veteran workers faced no pay and instability. Attig hoped that this action would motivate fellow Union vets to get more involved and it has seemed to work, “in the Infantry I learned how to be a force multiplier.” Attig wants UVC members and the labor movement to know, we may be small in size but we will be a force to be reckoned with.

The Union Veterans Council is working to unify our veterans by giving them the tools and platform to make their voices heard on a national and local level, along with inspiring union vets to take an action based role in the labor movement. Sam is just one of a growing movement of union veterans across the country who are using their voices to fight and advocate for fellow workers and the issues that matter to their community. The Union Vets Movement is on the rise! Growing, Motivating and Leading from the Front!