The only way for Latinos to directly influence public policy is to elect politicians who will represent the needs, dreams and desires of our community.
There are currently 21 million voting-age Latinos in the United States. Unfortunately, only 52% of these Latinos are registered to vote and, in 2010, only 31% of these actually turned out to vote. The fact that there are over 50 million Latinos in the U.S. implies that our population is much younger than the average American. Every month, 50,000 Latino youths become eligible to vote in this country. These figures, however, will mean nothing unless we convert these numbers into power and political action.
In order to do so however, we have to make sure we register as many voting-age citizens as possible and then facilitate and encourage them to actually vote. Otherwise our voice will never be heard in the halls of Congress or in State Houses across the country. In order to translate our numbers into results this election cycle, we have to effectively motivate a large unregistered population while efficiently engaging our registered community to actually turn out to vote.
More importantly, we must intensify our political education efforts in order to ensure that our community is voting for those politicians who are actually trying to better our lives, as opposed to those that would set us back.
It is exactly for this reason that I started The Latino Project of The American Worker. Our goal is to communicate to Latino voters in a targeted way, to ensure that our voters are well educated and perform at the ballot box.
I have been fortunate to travel the country and meet people who care about translating these population figures into real political power. It is in this context that Latino Project of The American Worker will positively and productively impact these demographics. But we need active involvement from everyone in our community.
For far too long now our voices have been ignored. It is now time for us to demand that we be heard! Working together as a coalition with our sisters and brothers around the country, the Latino vote will change the way politicians represent our community.
Chuck Rocha, who was born and raised in Tyler, Texas, followed in his father’s footsteps as a union worker for the Kelly Springfield Tire Company. He started his union career at the young age of 19 as a member of the United Rubber Workers Local 746. Three short years later he became the youngest elected officer in the history of Local 746. Within 15 years, through hard work, a string of electoral successes and fiery public speaking ability, Chuck was appointed the National Political Director of the largest industrial union in the U.S. in May 2005. He was one of the youngest – and the only Latino – National Political Directors of a major union in the nation.
Prior to becoming USW’s National Political Director, Chuck worked as the Southwestern Regional Political Director for the AFL-CIO. With the AFL-CIO, Chuck supervised and directed all labor-to-labor programs in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. Furthermore, he is a graduate of the Harvard University Trade Union program, and currently serves on the executive boards of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the National Young Democrats, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, respectively.