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Esteban Vera Jr. was appointed to SEPTA's board by State Rep. Joanna McClinton on March 4. Photo: Nigel Thompson/AL DÍA News.
Esteban Vera Jr. was appointed to SEPTA's board by State Rep. Joanna McClinton on March 4. Photo: Nigel Thompson/AL DÍA News.

Esteban Vera Jr. makes more history as SEPTA’s first Latino board member

The Laborer’s Local #57 business manager was appointed by State Rep. Joanna McClinton on March 4.

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Back in 2016, Esteban Vera Jr. made Philadelphia history when he became the new business manager of Laborer’s Local #57. 

With the job, Vera Jr. became the first Latino to lead a major labor organization in the city, representing upwards of 3,000 members across several industries, including those in heavy highway and road construction, lumberyards, scrap yards, cemeteries, roofing, and roadway flagging.

He estimates two thirds of the members he represents are Black or Latino, and in his position, he is a major voice pushing to get the city’s trades workforce more diverse.

“Everywhere I go to speak, I always boast about the diversity of our local,” Vera Jr. told AL DÍA in October 2020.

On March 4, 2021, he made more city history, becoming the first Latino to sit on the board of SEPTA — the city and region’s foremost transportation organization.

Vera Jr. was appointed by Pennsylvania State Representative and House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton.

She said he adds an “important perspective to SEPTA’s leadership, both as the first Latino and as the business manager of Laborers’ Local #57 for the last five years.”

McClinton also pointed out the importance of SEPTA to her constituents in Pennsylvania’s 191st district, which includes Upper Darby and parts of West Philadelphia.

“The people I represent depend on SEPTA services every day to get to their jobs, to school, to medical visits, to go shopping – and despite huge challenges during the pandemic, SEPTA has continued to be there for people who rely on it,” she said.

In response to the appointment, Vera Jr. echoed those same sentiments.

“SEPTA quite literally ties our region together and it should never be taken for granted,” he said.

He joins the board as the transportation authority copes with what General Manager Leslie Richards called back in October 2020, “one of its biggest funding challenges ever.”

In the slow road back to financial recovery, the decisions of Vera Jr. and those also on the board will determine the future of SEPTA.

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