1958 Study Tour to Puerto Rico
In 1958 the New York City Central Labor Council, the AFL-CIO, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers of Local Union #3, along with Cornell University participated in a study tour of Puerto Rico. The reason for this trip was to learn about the Puerto Ricans in their homeland, so with that knowledge they could better serve the needs of Puerto Ricans in New York City. Seventy-seven delegates representing industry, commerce and labor participated in the trip. One of the delegates and the driving force behind the study tour was Harry Van Arsdale Jr., the President of the New York City Central Labor Council and Business Manager of Local Union #3, I.B.E.W. He was a champion of the cause of working people, a truly concerned labor statesman and above all, a friend of the Hispanic community. Included in this group were thirty active, Spanish-speaking members of Local Union #3, which represented different divisions within the Local.
While in Puerto Rico, many of the conferences were held at the Santiago Iglesias Pantin Hall, which was named after the founder of the Labor movement of the island. Upon the return from Puerto Rico, Harry Van Arsdale Jr. suggested that those Hispanic members of Local #3 who attended the study tour form a Hispanic Society and that it be named after Santiago Iglesias Pantin.
At the end of 1958, the Society was founded by: Restituto Asencio, Agustín Benitez, Felix Crespo, Herminio Cruz, Julio Díaz, Carlos de Jesus, Gumercindo Espada, Pelayo García, Enrique Gónzalez, Carmen Hernández, Juan Jusino, Pedro Laracuente, José López, Oscar López, José Medina, Pablo Mendez, Mario Nievez, Antonio Olmeda, Luis Pérez, Eduardo Questell, José Ramos, Candido Reyes, José Rodríguez, Luis Sánchez, Pablo Sánchez, Jorge Santiago, Juan Sifre, Manuel Sifre, Severo Vadi and Damian Velardo.