Systemic change that transforms the local economy
An important step towards creating equal opportunity in workplaces across the City of Los Angeles is local enforcement of California’s Anti-Employment Discrimination laws. However, the State of California preempts legislative action that duplicates the purpose of the Fair Employment and Housing Act—making it difficult for Black workers to seek accountability and justice from employers who break the law. To ensure Black workers have equitable access to quality jobs, there needs to be comprehensive, strategic, and creative approaches to strengthen workers’ rights in the City of Los Angeles. This includes utilizing the City’s contracting power and addressing employment discrimination through a public health lens. In 2017, we brought together a broad coalition of workers, organizations, labor unions, civil rights advocates, and allies to lead the Heal Black Futures campaign, also known as the Anti-Discrimination Campaign. Our coalition Black Workers United advocated for the State of California to adopt Senate Bill (SB) 491 which would give local governments authority to enforce California Fair Employment and Housing Act laws within legal boundaries. This was crucial to fill the enforcement gap created by then President Donald Trump’s administration’s cuts to civil rights protections nationally. Only when local governments can urgently and thoroughly address discrimination claims could Black workers get back to work faster and recover lost wages.