On Friday December 1, 2017 the Labor Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston will be honoring retired business agent and former member Cynthia Rodrigues with the annual Cushing Gavin Award. The annual awards honor exceptional service to the labor relations community in Eastern Massachusetts with awards going to a labor professional, management professional, a yearly alternating labor/management attorney, and a labor relations professional. The New England Joint Board is exceedingly proud that one of our own, Sister Rodrigues, will be receiving this year’s prestigious labor award.
The Labor Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston began in the rich tradition of Catholic Labor Priests and Catholic Labor schools which rose to prominence during the industrial unionization drives of the 1940s and 1950s. The Archdiocese of Boston created the Labor Guild in the early 1950s as a way for workers to learns about their rights on the job and better understand the intricacies of labor relations. Since its creation the Labor Guild has provided many services to the labor/management community including full semesters of labor education courses, neutral meeting spaces, supervising union elections and certifications, as well as networking and leadership opportunities.
Sister Cindy Rodrigues began her career at an early age working in the garment factories of Fall River. She quickly rose through the ranks of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textiles Workers Union (ACWTU), one of the NEJB’s predecessor unions, first as a shop steward and later as a Business Agent. Cindy was one of the first female Business Agents for the New England Regional Joint Board of ACTWU. Sister Rodrigues served as a Business Agent for 22 years organizing and servicing thousands of immigrant members in the Joint Board’s clothing, textile, and manufacturing shops. During her service to the union Sister Rodrigues experienced the mergers of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) to form the Union of Needletrades Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) in 1995 and the merger of UNITE with the Hotel and Restaurant Employees to form UNITE HERE in 2004. Cindy lived through the decline of the needletrades and textile industry and the merger of many Joint Boards and locals in the New England area to form what is today the New England Joint Board UNITE HERE. Cindy has also served in many capacities as an official of the Central Labor Councils of New Bedford/Cape Cod and Fall River which merged to form the Greater Southeastern Massachusetts Labor Council. Through her years she has also represented the New England Joint Board and the Central Labor Council on the board of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. Cindy is known as a fighter for labor in her community, a progressive voice for women and immigrant workers, and a caring and devoted friend, daughter, aunt, and wife.
Sister Rodrigues is a stalwart labor leader with the wisdom, tenacity, and resolve so typical of needletrades unionists. We are proud to call her our own and congratulate her on this very special award.