Linda Chavez-Thompson (August 3, 1944) is a second-generation Mexican American and union leader. She was elected the executive vice-president of the AFL-CIO in 1995 and served until September 21, 2007. She is also a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee and a member of the board of trustees of United Way of America.
Chavez-Thompson was born in 1944. Her place of birth is not clear. Some sources indicate she was born in Mexico and brought without papers to the United States by her father, making her an undocumented immigrant. Other sources say she was born as well as raised in either Lorenzo, Texas, or Lubbock, Texas. Still other sources say she was born in San Antonio. Her father was a sharecropper, and she was one of nine (possibly only eight or seven; sources vary) children. At the age of 10, she took a job hoeing cotton in the fields in Lorenzo, Texas for the summer. It was a job she worked at for the next nine years. She also picked cotton for several years. She dropped out of high school at age 16 to help support her family, and married at the age of 20. She gave birth to a daughter in 1964 and a son in 1976. She divorced her first husband in 1984 and married Robert Thompson, the long-time president of the Amalgamated Transit Local 694 in San Antonio in 1985. He died in 1993 of complications of lung cancer.
In 1967, Chavez-Thompson became a secretary on the staff of the Construction Laborer's Local 1253 in Lubbock, TexasLaborers' International Union of North America. When a tornado struck the Lubbock area that year, she volunteered to coordinate the Texas AFL-CIO's relief efforts. She enjoyed the job so much, she became a staff organizer for the North Texas Laborers District Council. Her first organizing campaign was to help city workers in Lubbock form a union. They were successful.