Working for Justice: The L.A. Model of Organizing and Advocacy

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Working for Justice, which includes eleven case studies of recent low-wage worker organizing campaigns in Los Angeles, makes the case for a distinctive "L.A. Model" of union and worker center organizing. Networks linking advocates in worker centers and labor unions facilitate mutual learning and synergy and have generated a shared repertoire of economic justice strategies. The organized labor movement in Los Angeles has weathered the effects of deindustrialization and deregulation better than unions in other parts of the United States, and this has helped to anchor the city's wider low-wage worker movement. Los Angeles is also home to the nation's highest concentration of undocumented immigrants, making it especially fertile territory for low-wage worker organizing.

The case studies in Working for Justice are all based on original field research on organizing campaigns among L.A. day laborers, garment workers, car wash workers, security officers, janitors, taxi drivers, hotel workers as well as the efforts of ethnically focused worker centers and immigrant rights organizations. The authors interviewed key organizers, gained access to primary documents, and conducted participant observation. Working for Justice is a valuable resource for sociologists and other scholars in the interdisciplinary field of labor studies, as well as for advocates and policymakers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Working for Justice serves both to refine and expand our knowledge of employee representation in Los Angeles through a collection of chapters related to union- and worker center-led efforts' on behalf of low-wage earning individuals. It offers a nuanced study of specific instances in which unions and advocacy groups have sought to organize low-wage workers . . . . The collection also takes us beyond the well-trodden ground of union advocacy in Los Angeles, introducing readers to the importance of worker centers within the region . . . . In so doing, the authors cover tremendously varied terrain while concurrently interweaving numerous threads of commonalities across the campaigns and organizing efforts to create a portrait of the intricate links between union and nonunion worker groups, a picture that most fully emerges in the excellent afterword."— J. Ryan Lamare, ILR Review (July 2011)

"The essays in this volume offer us not only an informative account of some of the most vibrant and creative organizing campaigns to have emerged in recent years; they may also provide a glimpse of labor's future."—Joseph A. McCartin, Labor/Le Travail (Fall 2011)

"Working for Justice brings to light the struggles, the strategies, and the unlikely triumphs of organizations on the cutting edge of low-wage worker organizing in Los Angeles, the epicenter of labor's resurgence in the United States today. The book offers insights that can be found nowhere else and should be read eagerly by labor leaders and organizers, academics in fields from political science to sociology to law, and all others who seek a deeper understanding of how social change really happens."—Jennifer Gordon, Fordham Law School

"If there is to be a paradigm shift toward public sociology, Working for Justice could serve as the exemplar. Community leaders and activists helped shape the questions that scholars pursued, provided access academics can rarely achieve, reviewed drafts and offered feedback, and in the process enriched scholarship and advanced theory. These are cutting-edge studies of little-known campaigns based on the Los Angeles model of intimate connections between unions and worker centers."—Dan Clawson, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801475801
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2010
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 1,118,135
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ruth Milkman is Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and Academic Director of CUNY's Murphy Labor Institute. She is the author of several books, including the prizewinning Gender at Work and L.A. Story: Immigrant Workers and the Future of the U.S. Labor Movement. She is the coauthor of Unfinished Business, editor of Organizing Immigrants, and coeditor of New Labor in New York: Precarious Workers and the Future of the Labor Movement, Rebuilding Labor, and Working for Justice, all from Cornell.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Joshua Bloom vii

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction Ruth Milkman 1

Part I Worker Centers, Ethnic Communities, and Immigrant Rights Advocacy

1 The Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance: Spatializing Justice in an Ethnic "Enclave" Jong Bum Kwon 23

2 Organizing Workers along Ethnic Lines: The Pilipino Workers' Center Nazgol Ghandnoosh 49

3 Alliance-Building and Organizing for Immigrant Rights: The Case of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles Caitlin C. Patler 71

4 Building Power for "Noncitizen Citizenship": A Case Study of the Multi-Ethnic Immigrant Workers Organizing Network Chinyere Osuji 89

Part II Occupational and Industry-Focused Organizing Campaigns

5 The Los Angeles Taxi Workers Alliance Jacqueline Leavitt Gary Blasi 109

6 From Legal Advocacy to Organizing: Progressive Lawyering and the Los Angeles Car Wash Campaign Susan Garea Sasha Alexandra Stern 125

7 NDLON and the History of Day Labor Organizing in Los Angeles Maria Dziembowska 141

8 The Garment Worker Center and the "Forever 21" Campaign Nicole A. Archer Ana Luz Gonzalez Kimi Lee Simmi Gandhi Delia Herrera 154

Part III Unions and Low-Wage Worker Organizing

9 Ally to Win: Black Community Leaders and SEIU's L. A. Security Unionization Campaign Joshua Bloom 167

10 From the Shop to the Streets: UNITE HERE Organizing in Los Angeles Hotels Forrest Stuart 191

11 The Janitorial Industry and the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund Karina Muñiz 211

Afterword Victor Narro 233

Notes 245

References 265

Contributors 283

Index 287

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