2009 UCLA Faculty Small Grant Awardees


Principal Investigator


Project Title

Cesar Ayala

Organizing public sector workers in Puerto Rico

Gary Blasi
Law School

California employment discrimination law at age 50

Evelyn Blumenberg

Urban Planning

Immigrant carpooling and employment clustering

Karen Brodkin, Horacio Roque Ramirez

Gay LA labor activism

Scott Cummings
Law School

The law and the challenge to LA low-wage work

Chris Erickson, Kent Wong

Conference: "California state budget"

Miriam Golden
Political Science

Update of dataset

Ruben Hernandez-Leon


Conference: "Mexican immigrants as workers"

Raùl Hinojosa-Ojeda
César E. Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies

John Laslett


Two chapters of history of LA workers

Jacqueline Leavitt
Urban Planning

Conference: "Green jobs"

Kelly Lytle-Hernandez

Los Angeles jail

Ruth Milkman

Convening on the California Paid Family Leave program

Daniel J.B.Mitchell


SEIU Building Security Campaign

John Rogers

Survey of unionized parents in Ed & Labor Collaborative

Abel Valenzuela
César E. Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies

Car-Wash Industry Worker Study

Roger Waldinger

Labor market performance of 1st-3rd generation Mexican-origin workers


Summary of Research Projects


Prof. Cesar Ayala - Organizing public sector workers in Puerto Rico
Law # 45 of the 1998 in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico allowed for publicly recognized labor unions to be certified as exclusive representatives of public sector employees and to engage in collective bargaining. The central question of this research is whether the changes forced upon labor organizations by this law has produced any benefits for Puerto Rican workers. This stage of the grant is meant to explore the issues outlined in the last year's research with a specific focus on the teachers' union in Puerto Rico and the battle for representation between local unions and US internationals (SEIU, in this case).  

Prof. Gary Blasi - California employment discrimination law at age 50: Enforcing the Fair Employment and Housing act in 21st Century Labor Markets
This research project evaluates the enforcement of California employment discrimination law by the Dept. of Fair Employment and Housing through administrative action and by private litigants through the courts. Using a comprehensive administrative dataset of 230,000 complaints, structured interviews and surveys of participants in the enforcement process, we also identify current strengths and weaknesses and propose possible reforms during the 50th anniversary year of the state's first antidiscrimination law. 


Prof. Evelyn Blumenberg - Immigrant carpooling and employment clustering
Immigrants commute to work by carpool at rates almost twice that of native-born workers. This research examines one reason for this finding – the relationship between ethnic residential neighborhoods and the geographic clustering of employment destinations. The findings of this research will enhance understanding of both the employment and travel patterns of immigrants. 


Prof. Karen Brodkin & Horacio Roque Ramirez - Gay LA labor activism
This qualitative interview-based study of LGBTIQ unionists and activist workers analyzes the development of specifically LGBTIQ working-class perspectives and issues for social justice and their organizational contribution to the labor movement in Los Angeles. The results of this research offer labor unions analysis of LGTIQ activists contributions to the labor movement, unintended barriers to their participation, and new issues and workplace changes that contribute to social justice and direct organizing agendas. 


Prof. Scott Cummings - The law and the challenge to LA low-wage work
Although labor law has been implicated in the decline of American unionism, there is growing evidence that labor activists are deploying innovative legal strategies outside of federal labor law to promote workers' rights. This two-part study charts the evolution of law and organizing in the Los Angeles low-wage worker movement and to evaluate the efficacy of law as a tool of labor reform. 


Prof. Chris Erickson & Kent Wong - CA state budget conference
This grant will provide support for research on the California state budget and specifically the current requirement that the budget be passed by a two-thirds majority. The grant will also be used to organize a major conference in early 2009 on the California state budget. The research will be used to advise members of the California state legislature, policy makers, labor and management representatives, and faculty and students about the legislative origins of the two-thirds majority requirement possible alternatives. 


Prof. Miriam Golden - Update of dataset
This project provides supplementary funding for an update and expansion of the Golden-Wallerstein-Lange dataset project on unions, employers, collective bargaining on industrial relations in 20 Organization for Economic Co-operative Development (OECD) nations over fifty years. The measures in the process of update include trade union and employer association authority, measures of bargaining coverage and density.


Prof. Ruben Hernandez-Leon - Conference: "Mexican immigrants as workers"
This grant will provide support for funding a workshop/conference entitled "Mexican Immigrants as Workers: A Binational Conference on Mexico-U.S. Migration" – a two-day event which combines a series of panels following the classic workshop or seminar format and a set of panels bringing together scholars and community organizers, labor leaders and immigrant rights advocates to discuss the immigration and labor agenda.

Prof. Raùl Hinojosa-Ojeda - Immigration-related retaliation and Employee Free Choice: Immigrant worker survey and research report
Previous national research has yielded evidence that pro-legalization and pro-unionization policy approaches can generate a win-win impact on both immigrant wages and overall economic growth. The grant will produce a detailed report using the UCLA North American Integration and Development (NAID) Center IMPLAN Data Model to analyze the impact on Los Angeles and California of depressing wage and output impacts of anti-immigrant and anti-union organizing policy approaches. The result of the research will help establish the potential benefits of both Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and comprehensive immigration reform. 


Prof. John Laslett - Paradise Neither Lost Nor Gained: A History of Los Angeles Workers 1894-2004
Based on both primary and secondary sources, this manuscript will be the first comprehensive history of its kind since the 1960s.  It will provide a narrative history of the Los Angeles working class covering ecology, labor force, cultural and political developments, ethnic and racial groups and unions and relations with employers.  These funds will support the completion of the two final chapters on comparing the fortunes of workers across cities to "Los Angeles exceptionalism" and examining whether this history of Los Angeles serves to tell a tale of "paradise lost" or "paradise gained."


Prof. Jacqueline Leavitt - Conference: "Green jobs"
Green jobs, green buildings and green economy are increasingly pervasive in the media, in public dialogue and in academic discourse as solutions to the impending environmental and economic crises that affect millions of working people. What are the implications for workers, labor and community? How can social, economic and environmental justice principles apply to local policies? The grant funding will support a conference to disseminate research findings at the culmination of the research project that examine the above mentioned issues. Conference participants will include labor and community leaders, public officials, workforce development experts, and UCLA faculty and students. 


Prof. Kelly Lytle-Hernandez - Los Angeles jail
The grant will provide support for research on the role of vagrancy laws and convict labor in managing the poor, the underemployed, and the unemployed as the city embraced industrialization and urbanism at the turn of the twentieth century. The grant funds will be used to transfer data from digitized jail registers into a database and to search for the names listed on the jail registers on additional data sets, including census records, voter registration rolls, and city directories. 


Prof. Ruth Milkman - Convening on California Paid Family Leave program
The grant will support a convening of national and state experts on work-family issues to discuss a research agenda for evaluating California's Paid Family Leave program, the nation's first. The convening will take place in anticipation of the program's fifth anniversary (July 1, 2009) - a time when national interest in the issue is growing. 


Prof. Dan Mitchell - SEIU Building Security Campaign
The recent organizing campaign for building guards, or security officers, faced an uphill battle in the same way that the odds were stacked against the SEIU successfully organizing the 'Justice for Janitors' in the mid '80s.  However, although faced with a more complicated legal status than janitors due to the Taft-Hartley Act, the SEIU was again successful. These funds will support the interviewing and gathering of data to develop an understanding of how this success was accomplished. 


Prof. John Rogers - Survey of unionized parents in Ed & Labor Collaborative
The grant will support a membership survey of union locals in the Education and Labor Collaborative which includes not only unions representing teachers and classified staff, but also several service sector unions that represent large numbers of parents or grandparents of children attending poorly resourced schools. This study builds upon a four-year collaboration of UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA), the UCLA Labor Center, and several union locals, most prominently SEIU Local 1877. 


Prof. Abel Valenzuela - Car-Wash Industry Worker Study
The grant will support an original data collection project to better understand the labor market processes and characteristics of the car wash industry and workforce in the greater Los Angeles area. The project will result in a technical report that will be released under the auspices of IRLE, a short policy, fact brief and Op-Ed, and an article that will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. 


Prof. Roger Waldinger - Labor market performance of 1st-3rd generation Mexican-origin workers
This project will evaluate recent revisions of assimilation theory by comparing the labor market performance of Mexican immigrants and their descendents to those of native white and African Americans. Using unique data from 1995, 1997, 2001, and newly released 2005 CPS Contingent Worker Series, evidence of assimilation across employment sector distribution, fringe benefits, and earnings of four Mexican foreign born cohorts, second generation, and third generation Mexican Americans, will be assessed. 


Final reports will be due March 1, 2011