This audio interview is of Mario Ruiz Ronquillo, who was born outside of Mexico City, Mexico in 1974. He was one of 10 children who worked to support his parents' subsistence farm. In the late 1980s, his brothers began to leave the farm in search of work in the United States. He followed in 1991, coming first to California, where he worked painting parts for airplanes and began learning English. He later followed his brothers and other family members to Iowa and later Illinois. Because of Illinois' closed shop law, rank-and-file employees were members of the union, United Food and Commercial Workers 431, a district local run out of Davenport, Iowa. With superior English skills and a cousin in the union leadership, he began assisting workers in the plant and was soon tapped to become a translator and union steward. He went on to become a member of the local's negotiating committee and, later, an organizer and union representative in charge of locals in both Illinois and Iowa. Beginning in 2006, he was involved in an organizing campaign at Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa. The plant was the site of a highly publicized and controversial immigration raid in 2008.
Transcript of Mario Ruiz Ronquillo Interview Excerpt
- How did Mario Ruiz Ronquillo help workers in the meatpacking industry?
- Why was he chosen to be a union steward and on the negotiating committee?
Ruiz Ronquillo, Mario, Interviewee, John W McKerley, and Sponsor Occupational Folklife Project, “Mario Ruiz Ronquillo interview conducted by John W. McKerley,” 4 December 2015. Courtesy of Library of Congress