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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Unions and Education Justice: The Case of SEIU Local 1877 Janitors and the “Parent University” 

  • Author(s): Terriquez, Veronica;
  • Rogers, John;
  • Blasi, Gary;
  • Shadduck Hernandez, Janna;
  • Appelbaum, Lauren D
  • et al.

Over the last five years, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1877 - the “Justice for Janitors” union - has recognized educational improvement as a key quality of life issue for its predominantly Latino immigrant Los Angeles membership. Most Local 1877 members with children send their children to low-performing public schools. Yet many view their children’s education as the key to securing the future well-being of their families, especially since economic gains obtained through a janitors’ union contract can only go so far. Union members believe that SEIU Local 1877 should become involved in efforts to improve educational opportunities for their children. 

SEIU Local 1877 has taken several steps to respond to union members’ interests in their children’s education. The union has partnered with UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (UCLA IDEA), the UCLA Labor Center, and UCLA School of Law’s Program in Public Interest Law and Policy to understand the educational issues facing union members’ children.1 UCLA’s research findings show that the union’s Los Angeles membership is residentially concentrated in low-income Latino and African-American communities, near high schools that disproportionately suffer from a shortage of qualified teachers, overcrowding, and insufficient college preparatory courses. In these high schools, less than one half of entering students graduate. 

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