Case Studies

Memory Work L.A. offers readers case studies that highlight the struggle of working people to fully belong and thrive in an unequal city. Each case study includes an overview, a timeline, links to scholarly research and commentary, and original documents.

Union and immigrant rights advocates march in Los Angeles, c. 1992.

Our cases studies are a starting point for further research and exploration. Visit the Research Resources page gathers links to other online sources and a longer bibliography for the curious reader. The Media Reports page links to topical collections of articles from the Los Angeles Times and La Opinion.

The Los Angeles labor movement has been most effective when it embraces the diversity of the city’s working people. Since the 1990s, Los Angeles unions have worked in partnership with the city’s immigrant and African American communities to organize workers, promote policies that benefit all workers, and make the state of California a laboratory for progressive policy.

Despite these victories, L.A. remains an unequal city with many ongoing struggles. Systemic racism in education, employment and criminal justice, the cost of housing, federal immigration policy, and the warming climate are generating new social movements and new leaders. As we confront these and future challenges, the struggles of the past century hold worthwhile lessons for activists, students, and policymakers.