Cindy Estrada was elected to a second term as a UAW vice president in June 2010, at the union’s 36th Constitutional Convention. The longtime union organizer and social activist is the first Latina elected to serve as an International officer was first elected to the vice president position in 2010.
Estrada’s passion for the labor movement developed as she listened to the stories of her grandparents and other relatives who worked in the fields as farm workers and in Detroit’s plants as factory workers. Those stories have guided Estrada throughout a life dedicated to empowering workers and showing them that 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 chose union organizing over classroom teaching after being influenced by the words of United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, who observed that Estrada could have a greater impact on young people by helping organize their parents whose economic conditions didn’t allow for them to properly feed and clothe their children.
Estrada’s UAW organizing career began in 1995 when then-Region 1A Director Bob King assigned her 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 and other significant UAW organizing successes led then-President Stephen P. Yokich to appoint Estrada to the International’s organizing staff in 2000.
Estrada’s compassion for workers and strategic organizing vision led then-UAW Vice President Terry Thurman to appoint her as his top administrative assistant in 2006 to oversee development and implementation of the UAW’s organizing strategy. After Thurman retired in 2008, then-UAW President Ron Gettelfinger appointed Estrada to serve as national organizing director. In that capacity, Estrada advanced the union’s organizing goals in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, ran a number of high-profile and creative organizing drives, and worked with UAW regional directors on organizing training programs and campaigns.
In addition to her UAW work, Estrada also organized with the United Farm Workers to empower strawberry workers and trained organizers for the national AFL-CIO.
Since 2010, Estrada’s duties as International vice president have included directing the UAW Independents, Parts and Suppliers/Competitive Shop Department; Public Sector & Health Care Servicing Department, and Women’s Department. She has earned respect at the table for being a tough and creative negotiator, leading contract bargaining covering thousands of workers with major employers, including Dana, Johnson Controls, Lear, Magna, International Automotive Components (IAC), Faurecia, and the State of Michigan.
Estrada has also proudly honored the reason Walter Reuther urged 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.
Estrada’s vision for Public Sector workers has also resulted in negotiated agreements protecting wages and benefits for State of Michigan workers as well as providing additional job security. Estrada has been the chief negotiator for the Coalition of State Employee Unions in Michigan. This coalition includes UAW Local 6000 as well as Michigan Corrections Organization (SEIU Local 526M), Michigan State Employees Association (AFSCME Local 5), Michigan Public Employees (SEIU 517M), and AFSCME (Michigan Council 25) and represents more than 35,000 State of Michigan workers.
Estrada has been a member of UAW Local 174 since 1995. She is a board member of the Economic Alliance of Michigan, Engineering Society of Detroit, Michigan BCBS Health Endowment Fund, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and Michigan United. She is also a member of the Michigan Democratic Party and serves as a Michigan delegate on the Democratic National Committee.
Estrada is also involved in numerous charitable and social justice organizations, including Mi Familia Vota, the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), the NAACP, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA).
Estrada lives in Whitmore Lake, Michigan, and is married to Frank White, a former UAW organizer and retired administrative assistant to President King in the National Organizing Department. Frank and Cindy also are proud parents of their twin boys, Jason and Jesse. She is stepmother to Tracy, Jodi, Tara and Taylor, and grandmother to Alexis, Bradon, Delaney, Cadance, Carter and Logan.