SEIU 721 mourns the unexpected loss of labor leader John Delloro, who died Saturday from a heart attack. He was 38.
Known widely throughout the Southern California labor movement, Delloro served as Executive Director of the Dolores Huerta Labor Institute and was elected in 2009 as the national president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA).
“John Delloro was a talented organizer who touched the lives of so many members and staff of SEIU,” said SEIU 721 Chief of Staff Raahi Reddy. “Los Angeles was his home and our labor movement here is where he made his most direct impact. Throughout his years with our union and beyond, John mentored countless numbers of member activists and new organizers. We have experienced such a loss.”
Delloro recently conducted two training sessions on organizing for the staff of Local 721 and was partnering with the Local 721 APALA caucus to host a Hearing on Workers Rights for the Asian community here in Los Angeles.
Confronting Memories of Injustice
Delloro said his eyes were opened at UCLA, where he received his B.A. in Psychology in 1994, and his M.A. in Asian American Studies in 1996. Growing up in Southern California, “I didn’t identify as ‘Pilipino’ or even as a ‘person of color,’ ” he wrote in an article published last year. “It took me over twenty years to finally confront many memories I had hid away.”
“Eventually, I went from carrying picket signs protesting the exploitation of Asian immigrant garment workers to joining a civil disobedience with mistreated Latino /a janitors in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.”
He was a participant in the APALA Organizing Institute, a program that has trained the next generation of Asian Pacific American union organizers and community activists.
He Trained Hundreds of SEIU Members
His first position in the labor movement was organizing hotel workers in Las Vegas with the Culinary Workers Union 226. He went on to organize clerical workers with AFSCME, and health care workers with SEIU 399 in Los Angeles.
While at SEIU 399, he created a member organizer program that trained hundreds of rank and file members that actively participated in external organizing campaigns. In 2003, he was promoted to the Southwest Area Manager of SEIU 1000, the largest state workers union in the country at the time, with close to 100,000 members.
In 2006, he was hired as the first Executive Director of the Dolores Huerta Labor Institute, an organization that is expanding the labor studies curriculum within the Los Angeles Community College District, which has over 130,000 students. Under his leadership, the program has strengthened labor studies on all nine campuses, and has exposed thousands of community college students to unions. Since 2007, he taught Asian American Studies as a visiting lecturer at UCLA.
John Delloro is survived by his wife Dr. Susan Suh, a sociologist and community activist, and their two young children.