LA Labor History

Documenting Social Movement Unionism in Los Angeles

In the last decades of the 20th century, working people and their allies transformed the political culture of southern California. Once a stronghold of antiunion employers, and a crucible for the politics of resentment against immigrants and poor people, Los Angeles is now considered one of the most progressive and immigrant-friendly cities in the country. Driving this change forward was a network of service-sector unions, working-class community organizations, activist researchers, and artists. Sometimes separately and sometimes in dialog, they pioneered new forms of social movement unionism, political engagement, policy research, and political iconography.

Through a collaborative community history project the United Service Workers West (USWW, successor to SEIU Local 1877 and 399) donated a large collection if historical records related to the janitors’ campaign to the Department of Special Collections at the UCLA Library. The papers of the L.A. Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) followed in 2014. More recently, UNITE HERE Local 11 donated their records. We are working on a new platform to make these materials accessible. Until then, check these locations