PARTICIPANTS

Ben Monterroso

One of the earliest scenes we shot was Ben Monterroso planning SEIU's Labor Day event in 2001-- he was so busy that he was talking on two telephones at once, one on each ear, juggling Bishops and members of Congress and his normal union business. We weren't that surprised-- Frank Sharry had worked with Ben a few years before on the campaign against Prop. 187, so his force-of-nature reputation preceded him.

Filming with Ben over the years, it felt like he could turn anything into a major success through sheer will and extremely hard work. In his work on immigration reform he often collaborated with a lot of grass roots groups. With different organizing philosophies, grassroots groups and labor unions can sometimes be like oil and water-- Labor is hierarchical and emphasizes results and accountability, especially since they are often footing the bill for campaigns. Their grass roots allies sometimes complained that Labor was bullying, but no one could argue with the success of Ben's work. Especially when it comes to working with the media, Ben is a master.

Ben started at SEIU over 20 years ago as a janitor member in Orange County, California. He has organized workers, administered local unions and worked politically on organizing immigrant communities in California into a historic political coalition known as OLAW--Organization of Latin American Workers. He currently serves as special assistant to SEIU's executive Vice President Eliseo Medina as director of the Civic Participation Project aimed at increasing the political participation of immigrants.

Ben Monterroso appears in Stories 7 Ain't the AFL for Nothin', 8 The Road to Miami, and 9 Protecting Arizona
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