Features, Health and Safety, Municipal Government, New York

Queens Elementary School to Honor Héctor Figueroa

December 12, 2019

By Stephanie West

NEW YORK, NY — A Jackson Heights, Queens elementary school PS 398, has been re-named The Héctor Figueroa School. The re-naming honors the late union leader and 32BJ SEIU President who passed away earlier this year. The dedication ceremony took place on December 10, 2019.

“Héctor Figueroa was the embodiment of the fight for fairness and justice. His legacy lives on across the entire City – from workers who now have benefits they deserve to those who continue to draw inspiration from his mission,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Now, children from this school will see his name daily and learn how to take action for what is right.”

Héctor Figueroa was an international labor movement leader and president of the Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents more than 175,000 security guards, school cleaners and handypersons, doorpersons and airport workers. Figueroa was a leader in the Fight for 15, a grass-roots effort led by fast-food workers which started in New York City and grew into a nationwide campaign for a higher minimum wage. Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Figueroa came from a family of educators; his father was a school principal and his mother was a teacher and principal.

“I am proud, and a little sad, to celebrate PS 398 taking on the name of my dear brother Héctor Figueroa,” said Kyle Bragg, President of 32BJ. “Héctor loved Queens as a place where families from all over the world learned to call each other neighbors, friends, and family. That’s why we are so glad his name and legacy will have a chance to live on in the county he called home, where he was so happy to raise his family and work to make things better for all families.”

Open for the first time in the 2019-20 school year, The Héctor Figueroa School currently serves 117 Pre-K and Kindergarten students. The Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens has been home to the Figueroa family for years, and will grow to serve 476 students in grades Pre-K through fifth grade. 

Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York said,”Héctor Figueroa’s legacy and tireless advocacy for working men and women will now inspire Jackson Heights’ next generation to lead a life as gracious, committed, and honorable as Héctor led his.”

The state-of-the-art building is fully ADA-accessible, fully air-conditioned, and includes: Art, music and science resource rooms. Reading and speech room. An early childhood playground and rooftop playground for upper grades. A gymnatorium. A community meeting room.

“Héctor Figueroa was deeply devoted to improving the lives of working people, and he remains an inspiration to so many activists and organizers continuing to lead their own fights for justice. By renaming P.S. 398, Mayor de Blasio both rightly honors Héctor’s legacy, and creates an opportunity for young students to be constantly reminded that we can and must stand up for what is right,” said Peter Ward, President of the New York Hotel Trades Council.

The 476 seats at PS 398 The Héctor Figueroa School will help alleviate overcrowding in District 30 as part of the more than 2,100 new seats created in Queens for the 2019-2020 school year.

“Héctor Figueroa dedicated his entire professional life to seeking racial, social, and economic justice for all working people and their families,” said New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO President Vincent Alvarez. “He fought for a society that recognizes the dignity and honors the aspirations of all people, and it’s fitting that children in one of our most diverse and vibrant communities will be able to grow and learn surrounded by Héctor’s values.”

December 12, 2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.