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Cynthia Estrada

Board Member, Strategic Advisor to the President for the Center for Transformational Organizing (CTO)

Cynthia Estrada is the strategic adviser to the president for the newly formed Center for Transformational Organizing at the AFL-CIO. In her role at the largest federation of unions in the United States, Estrada is dedicated to facilitating cross-movement organizing in a way that’s never been achieved at scale and fulfilling a future of unprecedented union growth. She seeks to strengthen strategic national organizing campaigns with an industry, sector and geographic approach. Estrada joins the federation at a time when the labor movement is working to create good union jobs, honing our work on racial justice, benefiting new communities and protecting our planet.

Before her role at the AFL-CIO, Estrada was vice president of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW). She also served as a member of the board of IndustriALL Global Union and as a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council. However, Estrada is first and foremost known as an organizer and brings 26 years of labor movement experience with the UAW, holding every position from the lead organizer in successful organizing campaigns on the ground to the vice president of organizing, where she oversees complex strategic organizing and contract campaigns.

Cindy started as a member organizer in the UAW and went on UAW staff in 2000. She was first elected UAW vice president in 2010 and began directing the union’s UAW Independents, Parts and Suppliers (IPS)/Competitive Shop Department, Public Sector and Health Care Servicing Department and the Women’s Department. While in that role, Estrada also led negotiations for the Michigan Coalition of State Employee Unions, providing historic agreements protecting health care and establishing vital programs addressing privatization and workplace democracy for over 35,000 state employees.

As director of UAW Independents, Parts and Suppliers/Competitive Shop Department, Estrada proudly honored the reason Walter Reuther urged the department’s establishment in 1968: to use the UAW’s parts worker density to establish minimum industry-wide compensation standards in IPS contracts. This principle is rooted in the idea that companies should compete against one another on the quality and delivery of products, not against each other, to drive down wages and benefits. This resulted in breakthrough agreements in seating and other major auto component part industries. Four years later, she became the first woman and first Latina to lead the union’s General Motors Department. In her third term she led the Stellantis department, Organizing, Higher Education and Women’s Departments.

The longtime organizer and activist is involved with many labor and community organizations. Estrada is a proud member of UAW Local 174. She is the proud mother of twin sons, stepmother to four and grandmother of six.