Sergio Sosa’s eyes don’t stop shining when he talks about social justice. He’s been working his entire life as an organizer and has seen “a Latino community that returns home as if arriving from a war, with damaged bodies, some of them mutilated, unable to work again due to work-related accidents.” He has not, however, seen it all.
Originally from Guatemala, Sergio Sosa has been described as a person of firm convictions, committed to social change. His work aims to reach the political power of the state so that it can be put to good use for the people. It’s not an easy task, but it’s not impossible.
Ever since he started to work as a social organizer, he has managed to achieve many great victories, such as his work for the benefit of meatpacking plant workers, as well as his role in the historic mass rallies in downtown.
But his biggest achievement is probably the creation of the Heartland Workers Center, a non-profit organization that since fall 2008 has worked on helping those who work in the cleaning, construction, restaurant, hotel, hospital, and meatpacking industries.
It’s an organization focused on the problems, issues, and needs of workers, without falling into the stereotypes of a union.
His motivation? Everything he’s seen.
“I’ve witnessed the injustice of labor and immigration laws; persecutions, xenophobia, deportations, families being separated, salary theft…” he said.
Sosa has always been there, moved by the abuse and injustice suffered by people, many times due to unfair educational, economic, or social regulations, which generated unequal opportunities.
“But I also see a Latino community that has reinvented society, with honest and hard-working people. Within all the bad that I witness in our community, I also see many signs of hope with new local organizations and young people interested in becoming professionals in many industries, as well as exercising their right to vote, which makes for a promising future. This is why I decided to create the Heartland Workers Center.”
We must highlight that there are over 118 workers centers nationwide that provide an option between a union and a group of workers.
In Omaha, the method that this organization adopted to help the Latino working class to improve its quality of life is by way of education, leadership, and civic engagement.
Sosa has become a recognized figure, which has gradually worked to change the way things are.
Seeing him arrive and watching him speak is an interesting experience, because he does social and political work with joy, as something he enjoys doing, with an outgoing personality, devoid of any vanity.
He’s walking proof that optimism is always around those that work hard for social change, making it part of their existence, driving away despair and disenchantment because negativity and discouragement can only generate pessimism, which does not stimulate success.
He’s currently celebrating a decade leading the Heartland Workers Center, as well as the success of its third political convention.
“Who could have thought that after ten years, after starting with three programs [workers’ rights, civic engagement, and leadership development], we’d get to such a crucial moment.”
For Sosa, the fight for building a community that works for all is not over.
He recently agreed, along with local leaders, to organize “five conventions in five days.” He was at Nebraska City, Gran Island, Schuyler, Columbus, and Omaha.
He’s currently focused on achieving a bigger Latino participation in the next elections, “because elections, and the one in 2020, are important and politically crucial for all of us. Because of this, I hope that more people come forward as volunteers so that together we can continue to build a community that works for all.”
He’s a true social justice defender who aims to change the social system that generates inequality, suffering, torment, and the disdain of other human beings, modifying the individualist way of life for one that protects the collective, searching for equality that eradicates the current negativity for the positivity of a better future.