During the 1970s, the Hotel and Restaurant Employees union (HERE) Local 11 in Los Angeles was losing power as restaurant owners dropped their union contracts and hotels cut wages and benefits. In 1978 a multiracial group of members calling themselves United Workers of Local 11 challenged the union’s long-serving leader Scotty Allan. The group distributed campaign flyers accusing union leaders with making backroom deals with employers and ignoring the concerns of the Spanish-speaking majority of members. Meeting weekly at the People’s College of Law near MacArthur Park, the rank-and-file activist found support from progressive lawyers and activists from other unions. Their bilingual campaign literature declared, “We can no longer disregard a major portion of our membership and make ‘second class members’ of so many.” Although United Workers lost the election, they helped established the right of non-citizens to hold office and participate fully in the union’s affairs through the lawsuit of Daniel Ruiz their candidate for secretary-treasurer. Their effort was the beginning of a decade long struggle for union leadership that culminated in the election of Maria Elena Durazo in 1989. From the papers of the ACLU of Southern California, box 826 folder 6, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles. Learn more about UNITE HERE Local 11.
In 1972-73, the Immigration and Naturalization service carried out widespread raids on workplaces, businesses, and homes in Los Angeles. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California, in collaboration with the Center for Autonomous Social Action (CASA) and other allies in the Latinx community, filed suit to stop the raids–a case that became known as Loya v. INS. Founded in 1968 and led in its early years by Bert Corona, CASA provided social and legal services to undocumented immigrants, trained them to assert their rights, and supported unionization efforts. As this press release details, the ACLU charged that the INS was using “terror methods,” and targeting everyone with a “Latin appearance” including U.S. citizens. The Loya case was an early episode in a long-running battle between legal advocates and immigration officials. Download the Document.