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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Radicalism in the Ethnic Market- The Jewish Bakers Union of Los Angeles in the 1920s


In this paper, I will instead show how the Jewish bakers of Los Angeles used their position in the ethnic enclave economy as a source of strength, harnessing the power of their community through consumer-oriented strategies and tactics. Two strategies in particular cultivated connections between the politics of labor and the politics of consumption within the immigrant working-class: union labels and the Cooperative bakery. Both strategies employed food as a medium of social action, “buying union” baked goods becoming synonymous with “buying Jewish,” linking consumption to the expression of Jewish identity in Los Angeles. This paper will explore the strategic-decision making of the Jewish Bakers’ Union of Los Angeles, Local 453 of the Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union (B&C) of the American Federation of Labor in the 1920s and how their involvement in the ethnic enclave economy functioned as uniquely powerful community organizing model.

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