Friday, September 8, 2017

Latinos Find a Voice at AT&T - D

Originally published: September 8, 2017

When Lee Garcia took his first job at AT&T, then known as Southwestern Bell, in 1974, he and his brother were some of the first Latinos working out of the Houston office. Garcia remembers waiting for his first conversation with the union, with which he expected to meet immediately after being hired. But the meeting for him and his brother didn’t come until six months later. When he asked the union steward why it took so long, he was clipped with a brazen response: “I didn’t think you Mexicans would last that long.”

But that wasn’t the only time he was treated differently in the workplace. He was told that he could not speak Spanish at the company—none of the Latinos could. And words in passing were sometimes less than kind. “It was a different world, in that racial slurs or sexual innuendos were allowed back then,” Garcia says. “It would not surprise you on a certain day for a certain word to be said. It was normal.”