At its outset, our coalition was created in the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. During that era, minority workers vowed to get an equitable share of jobs in the bustling business of construction. In the fight to force the industry to include African American workers, a coalition called Harlem Fight Back was formed.

Another coalition during this time was the Black Economic Survival (BES), an organization founded in the Bronx—though later relocating to Brooklyn where it is still active today. BES was also formed to secure construction jobs for their community in an industry then closed off to them due to endemic institutional racism within the construction industry.

Believing that Harlem Fight Back and BES only helped black workers, and not Latinos, Frankie Santana founded the United Hispanic Construction Workers in 1982 to help provide a platform of employment and enfranchisement for the Hispanic contingent.

Six years later, David Rodriguez defeated Joe Lopez in the 1988 election for the Presidency. While the originating focus for Mr. Santana was on having Latinos as members exclusively, David Rodriguez envisioned a more inclusive organization that saw past ethnicity and sought to help all those who needed and wanted an opportunity to better themselves, Latino, Black, White, whomever.

As President, David welcomed members of all races and sought to incorporate women into the organization beyond merely token or ceremonial roles. His vision of the coalition is that it is all-inclusive. This preeminent belief has filtered throughout the culture of the organization, and we believe this is why it has been so resilient in the face of turbulent economic times and other external pressures.

"Accessibility" is a keystone principle of a coalition that originated with only 10 members and has now grown to over 300 active members, and counting...