Edison Severino Corniel
Edison Severino Corniel is the Director of Organizing and Political Coordinator for Puerto Rico.
In the early 90s he worked as an asbestos handler before the industry was unionized. The wages were low, benefits were not provided, and overtime pay was not offered. The industry also routinely violated environmental regulations. Contaminated material would be disposed of clandestinely and left in open containers. Workers were not even allowed to wear protective clothing so not to draw attention.
In January of 1996 LiUNA began an organizing drive to unionize the asbestos industry. Despite speaking little English, Edison was passionate about the cause and attended house meetings, volunteered to phone bank, and organized picket lines. By the end of April, 1,700 asbestos workers, including Edison were organized.
Shortly after the successful organizing drive, Edison was asked to go to Alabama to organize Latino poultry workers. He spent many days standing on a highway watching for the immigration authority because employers regularly threatened to get workers deported if they tried to form a union. From here, Edison went on to organize workers in North Carolina and in New York.
In late, 1996 Edison was hired as a Business Agent for Laborers Local 78. As a Business Agent he dealt with grievances, organized new campaigns, and administered the collective bargaining agreement. In 2001 when the World Trade Center collapsed, Edison helped coordinate the clean up effort and is tremendously proud of the effort by Local 78 members, many of whom worked seven days a week for months.
In January 2004, the members elected Edison as Business Manager of the Local. A position he held for 14 years, and under his leadership the Local more then doubled its membership and tripled it’s treasury.
In late 2015, he was assigned by Eastern Region International Vice President & Regional Manager Ray Pocino to oversee LiUNA’s organizing vision of bringing justice, honour & strength to the Puerto Rican construction worker.