Click the thumbnails below to read or buy the following publications related to Black labor and employment.


A New Sense of Power of the People: Fighting for Equity, Transparency, Accountability and Justice in the 21st Century Labor Market

Lauren Applebaum and Lola Smallwood Cuevas, UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Research and Policy Brief, No. 7, February 2011.

Drawing on data comparing unemployment rates by race, age, sex and education level, this 9-page policy brief makes the case for worker centers to address disproportionately high unemployment among African-American workers.

UC Berkeley Labor Center’s Monthly Black Worker Report

Track the unemployment rate of Black workers month-by-month.

Black Workers Overview

Though African Americans have significantly higher poverty rates than whites, blacks’ unionization rates actually exceed those of whites at both the state and national level. When blacks are able to join unions, the difference pays. In 1999, African American union members earned about 32% more than their non-union counterparts, surpassing the union premium for whites of about 15%. Learn this and other key facts about Black workers in this brief overview of Black employment.

State of the Black Worker: Community-Labor Dialogue

Read the 4-page summary of a dialogue between community and labor leaders held on January 16, 2010 convened by the Los Angeles Black Worker Center and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. More than one hundred workers, religious leaders, formerly incarcerated people, community-based organizations, and union activists attended this event, creating an amazing cross-section of South Los Angeles stakeholders who discussed the problems black workers face—including wage theft, workplace discrimination, and the lack of job crisis data—as well as proposed solutions that would improve access to quality jobs here in Los Angeles.

Improving Access to Construction for Black Workers in Los Angeles: Focus on PLAs and Local Hire

Union construction jobs are a pathway to middle class, with salaries averaging between $23 and $26 an hour. Blacks make up 9% of LA and 10% of LA’s union apprentices, but only 4.9% of construction workers. This two-page brief sets forth the Black Worker Center’s proposed solutions in clear bullet points.

Getting to Work: Unemployment and Economic Recovery in Los Angeles
Daniel Flaming and Patrick Burns, Economic Roundtable, February 2012.

Unemployment and under-employment currently represent $25.8 billion in annual wages not earned in Los Angeles County, $28.2 billion in lost private sector economic activity and $4 billion in tax revenue not generated. Find out who’s affected and in what industries in this 23-page report from the Economic Roundtable.


Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities
Darnell Hunt and Ana-Christian Ramón, NYU Press, 2010.

Black Los Angeles is the culmination of a groundbreaking research project from the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA that presents an in-depth analysis of the historical and contemporary contours of black life in Los Angeles. Contributors include Melina Abdullah, Alex Alonso, Dionne Bennett, Joshua Bloom, Edna Bonacich, Scot Brown, Reginald Chapple, Lola Smallwood Cuevas, Andrew Deener, Regina Freer, Jooyoung Lee, Mignon R. Moore, Lanita Morris, Neva Pemberton, Steven C. Pitts, Carrie Petrucci, Gwendelyn Rivera, Paul Robinson, M. Belinda Tucker, Paul Von Blum, Mary Weaver, Sonya Winton, and Nancy Wang Yuen.

Working for Justice: The L.A. Model of Organizing and Advocacy
Ruth Milkman, Joshua Bloom, Victor Narro, Eds., Cornell Press, 2010.

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. Contributor Joshua Bloom’s article, “Ally to Win: Black Community Leaders and SEIU’s L.A. Security Unionization Campaign,” tells the story of a milestone victory for 4,000 security officers whose union contract in 2008 provided a 40% pay increase over five years, a campaign won by an alliance of labor and Black civil rights community leaders.

Women’s Work: Los Angeles Homecare Workers Revitalize the Labor Movement
Lola Smallwood Cuevas, Kent Wong, and Linda Delp, UCLA Center for Labor Research and Employment, 2009.

This book highlights just a few of the many voices that brought more than 74,000 new workers into the union movement, the largest targeted organizing campaign in decades. This collection of personal stories, campaign analysis, and an abbreviated timeline tells one of America’s greatest stories of women of color standing together to demand fair wages, benefits, and the right to be “invisible no more.”


A Force More Powerful
A 2-disc DVD series by filmmakers Steve York and Miriam Zimmerman (2000).

“A Force More Powerful” explores one of the 20th century’s most important but least understood stories: how nonviolent power has overcome oppression and authoritarian rule all over the world. Narrated by Ben Kingsley, and nominated for an Emmy, A Force More Powerful premiered on PBS in September 2000. Click here to read a summary of Episode 1, “We Were Warriors,” about Rev. James Lawson, written by LA Black Worker Center member Sherri Bell.

LA BWC develops organized power and grassroots leaders who strengthen all of Los Angeles by advancing economic and racial justice for Black workers and the families that rely on them.