Ron Ruggiero leaves 9-year legacy of historic victories for services workers across the state of Colorado
DENVER, CO — Colorado’s janitors, healthcare, airport and security officers union has voted to appoint Stephanie Felix-Sowy as the acting President of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 105 following former President Ron Ruggiero’s announcement that he will be moving on from the organization after 9 years of leadership.
“It’s truly an honor to serve this strong and diverse membership of service workers across our great state of Colorado and the mountain west.” said Stephanie Felix-Sowy acting President of SEIU Local 105, “To the janitors who clean and maintain the largest buildings in downtown Denver, to the healthcare and mental health workers who save lives across the mountain west, for the airport workers who make the 3rd busiest airport in the world continue to run every day, and the security officers who protect our communities; I am committed to continuing to build on the victories we fought so hard to accomplish over the past decade and stand ready to build an even stronger union for all.”
The appointment of Stephanie Felix-Sowy by the service worker-led Executive Board marks a historic first for the 8,000 member strong union, making her the first Latina woman to hold the position in the organization’s 83-year history. A lifelong Coloradan from Greeley, Stephanie brings with her over 14 years of experience fighting to bring a union voice for services workers across the country, serving her last 7 years as the Director of the union’s healthcare organizing division.
“Over the past decade, healthcare workers across this state have joined together to win historic victories,” said Patricia Johnson-Gibson, a healthcare worker at Kaiser Permanente for over 24 years and Vice President of Healthcare at SEIU Local 105. “Every step of the way, both Stephanie and Ron have worked together to lead the members of this union to higher wages, better benefits, and safer conditions at work. I’m so proud that Stephanie, the first woman to lead this union, will build on that legacy and make us even stronger.”
Over the last 9 years, SEIU Local 105 played pivotal roles in raising the state, local, and airport minimum wages, winning groundbreaking contracts for service industry workers with historic wage raises, leading the advocacy for the passage of paid sick and paid family leave, and increasing the membership of the local union from 5,000 to over 8,000 members.
“As a member and leader of this local for the last 34 years, everything we have accomplished in recent memory is a true testament to our strong and united membership,” said Eshal “Shelly” Fowlkes, healthcare worker at Kaiser Permanente and Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Local 105. “We know Stephanie will work directly with our membership to lead our union to even greater heights as we continue to advocate for the rights of working people everywhere.”
The change in leadership marks an important new chapter in representation for the majority women membership of SEIU Local 105 which has time and again broken gender barriers and set new standards in their state industries. Stephanie now joins an all women of color led leadership team at the union.
“I’ve been a janitor and a member of SEIU for almost 30 years. Seeing a Latina like Stephanie lead our union means so much to me and to the thousands of other Latina service workers that are members here,” said Patricia Robles, Denver janitor for the last 28 years and Vice President of Property Services at SEIU Local 105. “We’re making history on the job, and we’re making history in our union. We’re so proud of her, and we’re excited for the future and all the victories we’re going to win together.”
After 28 years of fighting for the rights of working people with SEIU across the country, Ron will be starting a new chapter in his previous home of Portland, Oregon with his wife Cynthia.
“I am deeply proud of our accomplishments over the nine years that I was honored to serve as President. Our members, member leaders, and staff have risen to every single challenge placed before us, even when others told us they were ‘impossible’ battles to win,” said Ron Ruggiero “But, this is what the labor movement does: it inspires working people to do extraordinary things and make lasting change in our communities. I am happy to leave this organization in Stephanie and her team’s strong and capable hands, and I have no doubt that SEIU 105 will continue to grow, thrive, and win across the state of Colorado in the months and years to come.”
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 105 is the union made up of more than 8,000 healthcare, property service, and airport workers in Colorado and the mountain west. Our union is part of the fastest-growing union in North America, whose 2 million members make up the largest healthcare union, the largest property services union, and the second-largest public services union.