John Santos is 32BJ Vice President and New York Metro District Residential Division Director, as well Hudson Valley District Director. In these capacities, he represents over 34,000 residential members in New York City and 4,000 members in Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, and Westchester counties in New York State.
In 32BJ’s New York Metro residential division, John directs the union’s member representation, political, and organizing programs across the city’s five boroughs. In the Hudson Valley, he oversees commercial office cleaners, residential building workers, country club workers and workers at Yonkers Raceway
John began his career in the labor movement as a porter at a downtown Manhattan building in 1992. His experience as a 32BJ member inspired him to become a shop steward and then, in 1998, to work for the union as a delegate. After two years working to protect workers who lost their jobs when buildings were sold, John was then tapped to become a lead organizer on the union’s groundbreaking campaign to organize commercial office cleaners in New Jersey.
“We went to New Jersey and everyone was working part-time and making $5.50 an hour,” John recalls. “A lot of the workers brought their children with them to work. They had no rights on the job, no health insurance.” Then the workers started organizing. “It was amazing to see hundreds of workers go on strike and fight to win a contract that doubled their salaries,” he said. Some 5,000 commercial office cleaners in New Jersey saw their salaries jump from as little as $5.50 an hour to more than $11 an hour. Since then, John has led the union to successfully negotiate numerous district-wide residential and commercial contracts that have continued to improve the lives of tens of thousands of building service employees.