Ray Figueroa

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Ray Figueroa


Ray Figueroa was a Tucson, Arizona labor unionist and associate of the Communist Party USA. He died in 2010, age 63. He was married at one time to Linda Bohlke.

Arizona "progressive" community

On May 1 2009, this statement appeared in the Communist Party USA paper Peoples World;[1]

Arizona’s progressive community extends May Day and Cinco de Mayo greetings to all our friends across the country. We commit ourselves to join the struggle for jobs, equality, national health care, a fair immigration policy, and for peace and justice in the Middle East. Let’s make this planet a good place to live for all its inhabitants.

Arizona Peace Council, AZ4NORML, Campaign for Labor Rights, The Einstein Academy, Casa Maria/Catholic Worker East Valley Club Communist Party USA, Law Office of Payson & Gattone, The Latino Doctrine (TV show) Revolutionary Grounds Books and Coffee, Salt of the Earth Labor College Tucson Club CPUSA , Tucson Peace Action Coalition

Clyde Appleton, Mary Elinor Adams, Rolande Baker, Anne Brenner, Joe Bernick and Cat Stelman, Nancy Bissell, Jack Blawis, Don Buchanan, Richard Boren, Susan Clark, Rebeca Cartes, Eugenia Chilton, Jack DeWeese, Howard Druan, & DD Sande, Gregory Feesl, Ray Figueroa, Brian Flagg, Michael Flower, Sean Fowlkes, Nancy Gallen, Maggie Gerring, Michael Gray, Nancy Graham, James Hannley, Beverly Halkias, Jeff Imig, Mansur Johnson, James Jordan & Raquel Mogollon, Frank Jents, Marilyn Kramer, John Kromko, Jim Kincaid, Brandy Lintencum, Rob McElwain, Mary MacEwan, John Mackoviak, Jane Martin & Bob Vint, Jon Miles, Nancy Myers, Kathy Norgard, Richard Osburn, Ismael Parra, Nancy Pontius , Alice Ritter, Carlos Salaz, Sr., Mazda Shirazi, Rosemary Solarez, James Stewart, Brian Stevens, Olga Strickland, Donald Tewels, Dennis Tallent & Laura Tallent, Anita Torrez & Lorenzo Torrez, Carolyn Trowbridge & Keith Bagwell, Susan Thorpe, Steve Valencia & Janet Valencia, Edward Vargas, Steve Wheaton, Michael Wheeler, Susan Willis , Wendell Wilson, Deb Wilmer.

Figueroa remembered

"Being a union member is not a title, it's a way of life. You either believe it and do it or you're just wearing the title. He lived it," said Vikki Marshall, a member of the Pima Community College Governing Board and a retired steelworker, who had known Figueroa since the late 1970s.

"For Ray it was never about the power," she said. "The primary goal was to make working conditions better and that employees had the respect and dignity we all need in life."

Figueroa was tireless in his commitment to labor issues and those of peace, justice and equality, working late nights and weekends to improve the community.

"He saw all those battles as really one big battle. He didn't see separations between them," said his last wife, Linda Bohlke.

Bruce Slabaugh, president of AFSCME, Local 449, saw first-hand the toll such a grueling schedule took on Figueroa.

"Ray was one of the most giving people on the planet and he basically ruined his own health forwarding labor causes. Ray was diabetic for a long time. Ray just worked an outrageous amount of hours and did all kinds of stuff outside the normal scope of what a field representative would," he said.

Figueroa died Feb. 17, a month before his 64th birthday, of complications related to diabetes.

At the time of his death, Figueroa had been laid off from his job with AFSCME, a friend said, but he was working with the Jobs with Justice coalition to the extent his health would permit.

Figueroa was born in Tucson, the second youngest of eight children, and grew up on the south side, down the street from Dan Eckstrom, former chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors and former mayor of South Tucson.

"It was Ray that saw the need for community support around workers' issues" in Tucson, said friend Steve Valencia. "He started out at a very early age trying to fight for workers rights.

"Ray was a teamster in Oakland when he was a very young man. I think the union realized he had a little more to give and they elevated him to an organizer."

After returning to Tucson, Figueroa took the job with AFSCME.

"He didn't flinch from trying to be inclusive and to be broad and to invite everybody into these struggles for workers' rights. It was a particularly important contribution he made. He was always trying to bring in the concept of coalition," Valencia said. "He was a fighter, but he was also really fair-minded."[2]

References