The Austin Chronicle

Workers Defense Welcomes New Executive Director

By Amy Kamp, December 25, 2015, News

When former Workers Defense Project Executive Director Cristina Tzintzún took the job, she had little experience other than the time she had already spent at WDP. Now, in a testament to the reputation WDP built during her tenure, her position is being filled by the highly credentialed Jose Garza.

Garza is a Texas native, born in Laredo, raised in San Antonio, and a University of Texas grad. After graduating from UT in 2001, Garza moved to Washington, D.C., working for Congressman Ciro Rodriguez for a year before attending law school at Catholic Uni­ver­sity. Garza came back to Texas to first work as a public defender for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, and then as a federal public defender in the Western District of Texas.

Garza says that after the 2008 presidential election, he was "incredibly excited," and decided to return to D.C. to become the deputy general counsel for the House Com­mit­tee on Education and Labor. From there, he took a spot at the National Labor Rela­tions Board, and most recently was the associate deputy secretary in the office of policy at the Department of Labor. "There's no greater champion for working people than Secretary Perez," Garza says of Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez.

Garza says becoming the WDP executive director is "an opportunity to work for real people engaged in that struggle [to enact laws and policies benefiting workers]. No one is doing more to empower working people [than WDP]. It has a tremendous reputation, not only throughout the state but nationally," he says.

Garza is "humbled by the success that the members have had; that the staff has had," and looks forward to helping do more, emphasizing that immigration reform is crucial for workers. Additionally, Garza argues that there's currently a misapprehension that employers must choose between ensuring worker safety and being successful companies. "It is possible to do both," he says, continuing that "there are contractors who want to do the right thing, who know that they can have a successful business and take care of their workers."

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