Tom was born in San Antonio, TX and raised in a traditional Catholic family, which taught him the value of compassion at an early age. The oldest of six children, he was certainly quick to learn familial responsibility and what it meant to set an example for those that followed. He graduated from Alamo Heights High School and enlisted in the United States Air Force shortly thereafter.
After his discharge from the military, Tom immediately joined César Chávez’s Texas Farmworkers Union campaign. His pay was room and board, $5.00 a week, and all of the menudo he could possibly eat. In his two year tenure with the Farmworkers Union campaign, Tom had many coordinating responsibilities including the organizing of the Grape Boycott in San Antonio. He faced several arrests with the Farmworkers staff for picketing outside HEB grocery stores, and in 1972 he was once chased from the San Antonio Produce Terminal with gunfire for attempting to organize warehouse workers. During this time period Tom also published a bi-weekly underground newspaper, the San Antonio Gazette. Through all threats and dangers, Tom remained steadfastly committed to the plight of the American worker.
Upon leaving the Farmworkers Union campaign, Tom was recruited by the SEIU to organize hospital workers in Denver, CO. Two years after this endeavor, he was in Milwaukee, WI working as a business agent for an independent union that represented Wisconsin Gas and Wisconsin Power employees.