Henry L. “Hank” Lacayo has had a distinguished career as an executive representing the United Auto Workers of America (UAW) and as a recognized national labor leader in the American political scene. He began his career in labor in 1953, and soon was elected President of UAW Local 887, representing more than 30,000 workers at North American Aviation, later Rockwell International. In 1974, the UAW asked him to accept a position with the national headquarters in Detroit, MI as an Administrative Assistant to then-President Leonard Woodcock. He was appointed National Director of the Political and Legislative Department. Under Democratic administrations, beginning with John F. Kennedy through the current administration, he served as an advisor to current and past Presidents of the United States. He has been and continues to be involved in the electoral process of U.S. Representatives, Senators, Governors and other state legislators, and national advocacy organizations in the U.S. and in other countries. He is listed in Who’s Who in Labor (1st edition).
Following military service in the U.S. Air Force, Mr. Lacayo went to work at North American Aviation in 1953. While employed at Rockwell, he became involved with UAW local 887. Within a few years at Rockwell, he went to work full-time for Local 887 and served as editor of their newspaper. Then UAW President Walter P. Reuther encouraged him to continue his union activities, and in 1962 he was elected President of UAW Local, a position he held for 10 years. At the same time, he was chief national negotiator for the UAW/Rockwell contracts. He then accepted a position as Assistant Director of the UAW Western Region covering 9 states, including Hawaii and Alaska. He also served as Political Director of the UAW Region, which he helped to establish as a strong and respected political force.
In 1974, Mr. Lacayo moved his family to Detroit, Michigan when he began employment at the UAW national headquarters, serving as Director of Public Relations and Publications Departments. He was Administrative Assistant to three successive UAW Presidents, Leonard Woodcock, Douglas Fraser, and Owen Bieber. He was appointed National Director of the Community Action Program, the UAW’s political and legislative arm. In this capacity, he directed a staff of 50 full-time political and legislative advocates.
Mr. Lacayo retired from the UAW in 1986, but not from public life. He is active in public advocacy, labor, minority rights, politics and legislation at the state and federal level, and formed H.L. & Associates, a consulting firm representing interests in labor and management issues, government issues, community relations, senior citizen issues and international affairs. Currently he is actively involved in the institute that bears his name: The Henry L. “Hank” Lacayo Institute for Workforce & Community Studies. The HLI mission reflects the interests and passion of Mr. Lacayo’s long career as it looks at how work and economic opportunities shape the quality of life for individuals and their communities. Most recently, Mr. Lacayo was honored as the 2012 inductee to the Pacific Coast Business Times Hall of Fame. He received an honorary doctorate from the California State University Channel Islands in recognition of his work on behalf of so many communities.