After 40 years of service and leadership through multiple crises, including the passing of former 32BJ President Héctor Figueroa and the COVID-19 pandemic, 32BJ President Kyle Bragg announces retirement.
Secretary-Treasurer Manny Pastreich becomes 32BJ president
New York, NY – After 40 years of service to 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, including leading the union as President through the tragic passing of former 32BJ President Héctor Figueroa and the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic shutdowns, 32BJ President Kyle Bragg has announced his retirement. After a vote of 32BJ’s Executive Board today, former Secretary-Treasurer Manny Pastreich became the union’s new president.
After the passing of Figueroa, Bragg was elected by the 32BJ Executive Board in 2019 and re-elected by union membership in 2021. He led a union of essential workers through tragedy and an unprecedented pandemic to multiple triumphs. Under Bragg’s leadership, 32BJ successfully negotiated the 2019 commercial contract, which raised standards and wages for workers in New York and beyond. Bragg also oversaw the union’s successful advocacy for airport workers that led to the passage of the landmark Healthy Terminals Acts in New York and New Jersey, which provided comprehensive health coverage and improved wages to tens of thousands. This was followed in 2022 with another historic contract for 32,000 New York essential residential building service workers who were critical in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bragg also spearheaded 32BJ’s extremely successful electoral advocacy, which delivered big legislative wins for working people. Under Bragg, 32BJ played a vital role in the election of Mayor Adams, President Biden, and New York City’s historic majority women Council, including Speaker Adrienne Adams, the first Black female Speaker of the city’s legislative body. Coupled with these critical victories at the ballot box are several significant legislative victories, including a groundbreaking law reining in out-of-control hospital pricing, landmark bills establishing protections for fast food workers, and raising labor standards for security officers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bragg’s leadership ensured that the union did not just survive but managed to thrive by growing its membership, protecting existing members, and winning historic legislative and settlement victories in the union’s airport, security, and fast food organizing campaigns. With the help of Bragg’s leadership, the union has expanded into the South with a new Florida District and invested in organizing initiatives in Southern cities like Charlotte, NC.
Bragg, the first Black president in 32BJ history, also worked to advance racial justice within the labor movement, serving as chair of the union’s social and economic justice committee and as a member of SEIU’s National African-American Caucus executive board and Racial Justice Task Force.
“I will be forever grateful and honored to have had the chance to lead 32BJ as its President,” said Kyle Bragg. “Serving at the very top of this incredible organization represented the culmination of a four-decade-long career in the labor movement. From the first day I walked through the 32BJ doors, it was clear this union did not back down from a righteous fight. It was right here, with my brothers and sisters, that I learned that you couldn’t just be about the work; you have to double down on it. And I never lost sight of our proud tradition of going beyond representing our members. We fought for and won the benefits and security families need and deserve. And we did all of this when labor was under attack for decades, beat back the resurgence of xenophobia, racism, and misogyny, and faced down a global pandemic. Because of the strength of our organization, people, and mission, we are poised to keep winning for working people across America.”
Manny Pastreich will replace President Bragg as the new president after today’s vote by the Executive Board. Pastreich became 32BJ Secretary-Treasurer in July 2021 and brings a lifetime of labor experience. A second-generation labor leader, Pastreich has helped lead bargaining across 32BJ, including for the union’s most recent New York Metro Residential agreement. Pastreich’s 30 years of experience in bargaining, representation, and organizing campaigns have produced wins for members and strengthened 32BJ, particularly through his leadership on healthcare and retirement issues.
“It has been my true honor and pleasure to work alongside Kyle all these years,” said Manny Pastreich. “32BJ and the entire labor movement are better because of his leadership, and 32BJ is immeasurably stronger. We will miss Kyle and will use all he has taught us to continue to win strong contracts, organize the unorganized, and make politicians accountable to working people.”
Kyle Bragg reiterated his confidence in the union’s future. “We have a great team and my brother Manny Pastreich has been my most trusted voice on not only the bread and butter of bargaining and benefits but also how we can bring union power to workers in non-traditional industries. Next year we will be bargaining for over 80,000 members, and no one is more qualified than Manny to lead 32BJ through that challenge,” said Bragg.
With more than 175,000 members in 12 states and Washington DC, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.