In this cartoon from the Justice for Janitors campaign, two workers worry about the cost of healthcare. The superhero Mopman tells them that having good health insurance is like “having extra money in your pockets.” In cartoons and street theater, the character Mopman was part of the union’s strategy to reach rank-and-file janitors.
Following the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Los Angeles unions became more involved in recruiting immigrant workers. An article in the L.A. County Federation of Labor Newsletter profiles the Labor Immigrant Assistance Project (LIAP) and the California Immigrant Workers Association (CIWA), both efforts by the labor movement to reach out to new immigrants. From The Federation News, January/February 1989, pp. 4-5.
The AFL-CIO published this information for unions and workers in the wake of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. The law created a process for many undocumented residents to regularize their status, and the pamphlet highlights organized labor’s role in helping “undocumented workers attain legal status and prevent discrimination by employers.” In Los Angeles, the Labor Immigrant Assistance Project (LIAP) supported workers’ amnesty applications, and the California Immigrant Workers Association (CIWA) served as a general union for immigrant workers without collective bargaining in their workplaces. IRCA also created a new federal prohibition on hiring undocumented workers, something immigrant rights advocates and organized labor in Los Angeles had strongly opposed, but the national AFL-CIO supported. The AFL-CIO abandoned this policy in 2000. View the Document.
In 1978, members of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees union (HERE) Local 11 challenged their union’s ban on noncitizen officers and its long-serving leader Scotty Allan. Key issues for the opposition (reflected in this collection of campaign flyers) were declining union membership and density, lack of attention to the concerns of the Spanish-speaking majority of members, and a sense that leaders were too cozy with employers (Download the documents). With the help of the ACLU, the rank-and-file slate threatened a lawsuit and the union allowed Daniel Ruiz to run for office. Although they lost the election, these union members touched off a decade long struggle for union leadership. 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.