Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez

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Cristina Tzintzún
Tzintzun (2019).jpg
Tzintzún at the LBJ Presidential Library in 2019
Born1982 (age 36–37)
Alma materUniversity of Texas at Austin
OccupationLabor organizer
Known forWorkers Defense Project, Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, Jolt
Political partyDemocratic
AwardsNew Hero of Civil Rights, Texas Change Makers

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez born in 1982 is a Chicana/Mexican-American organizer and author, the co-founder of the Workers Defense Project[1] and Jolt. On August 12, 2019, Tzintzún announced her intention to challenge incumbent United States Senator John Cornyn in the 2020 United States Senate election in Texas.[2]


Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez is bi-racial. Her mother is from a rural agricultural community in Michoacán, Mexico and her father is a white American who came to live in Mexico in the 1960s and 1970s.[3] Cristina Tzintzún was born and raised in the state of Ohio where her parents ran a fair-trade Mexican jewelry business.[4] The family business required that the Tzintzún family live and travel to Mexico throughout Tzintzún’s life which gave her a unique perspective on the economic conditions that caused immigrant communities to migrate. Her parents, both progressive, encouraged their children to participate in various causes, especially those involving the Latino immigrant community. In high school, Cristina began organizing and working with newly arrived Mexican immigrants in Ohio.[3]


Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez began organizing with Latino immigrant workers in 2000 in Columbus, Ohio and then moved to Texas where she helped found Workers Defense Project (WDP), serving as its Executive Director from 2006 until 2016.[5]


At Workers Defense Project (WDP), Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, along with co-founder Emily Timm, led the organization to focus its efforts on the construction industry, the largest employer of undocumented labor in Texas.[1] She helped spearhead the organization’s efforts to organize workers in one-of the most hostile political climates for worker and immigrant organizing in the country.[1] Every 2.5 days a construction worker in Texas is killed on the job and one in five experiences wage theft.[6]

In 2006, Tzintzún served as the lead coordinator of immigrant mobilizations in Austin, TX on April 10 (30,000 participants, the largest public demonstration in Austin history)[7] and May 1 (10,000 participants). May 1st was also a general strike; the immigrant community was told not to go to work, not to attend school, and not to buy anything that day as a symbol of the economic strength of the immigrant community. It was estimated by some news reports that 60% of restaurants and 80% of construction sites closed in Austin for the strike.[7]

In 2008, she helped co-found the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition (AIRC), which brings together stakeholders across the city to advocate for the rights of immigrants.[7]

Tzintzún helped lead the organization to pass over half a dozen local ordinances and state laws better protecting the rights of hundreds of thousands of workers by combining grassroots organizing, strategic research and smart communications strategies.[7] She co-authored two reports on construction workers in Texas that resulted in a federal investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and led the agency to review 900 construction sites resulting in $2 million in fines.[8]

Cristina Tzintzún created and developed the organization’s Better Builder Program, which won construction workers living wages, higher safety standards, training and on-site enforcement by Better Builder monitors against some of the largest corporations in the world.[5] At the close of 2015, the Better Builder program had won agreements on nearly a billion dollars in construction projects covering 10,000 workers.[9] One-quarter of workers surveyed on Better Builder sites reported receiving a raise from their last job, 38% reported receiving safety training for the first-time and 30% reported receiving workers’ compensation coverage for the first time in their construction careers.[10]

In 2017, Tzintzún founded Jolt, a civil rights organization that works to lift up the voice, vote, and issues impacting Latinos in Texas. Jolt organizes the community to determine what happens on school boards, at the Governor’s mansion and all the way to Congress to make government works best for ordinary people, accomplishing that through accomplish this through voter engagement, leadership development and community and student organizing.

Honors and awards[edit]

In 2013, Tzintzún was selected by Southern Living Magazine as one of four honorees who represent the next generation of leaders and named her as the 2013 New Hero of Civil Rights.[11] As part of its 60-year anniversary, The Texas Observer selected her as one of seven Texans "who’ve helped change the state for the better."[12]

Published works[edit]

Cristina Tzintzún is also an author on issues of race, gender and immigration her work has appeared in the Huffington Post, The Dallas Morning News and Al Jazeera and in the following books:

  • Presente! Latino Immigrant Voices in the Struggle for Racial Justice" Co-Editor, AK Press, 2014 ISBN 978-1849351669
  • "Build a Better Texas: Construction Working Conditions in the Lone Star State", University of Texas at Austin, 2013 Co-Author
  • "Building a Better Nation: A Case for Comprehensive Immigration Reform" University of Texas at Austin, 2013
  • "Building Austin, Building Injustice: Working Conditions in Austin’s Construction Industry" University of Texas at Austin, 2009
  • "Killing Misogyny: A Personal Story of Love, Violence and Strategies for Survival" in: "Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape. Seal Press, 2008 ISBN 9781580052573
  • "Colonize This!" in: Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, Edited by Daisy Hernández and Bushra Rehman. New York. Seal Press, 2002 ISBN 9781580050678
  • "Protecting Immigrant Workers" National Housing Institute: ShelterForce Sept. 1 2015