Unions and the Unionization of Latinas/os in the United States

  • Héctor L. Delgado

This chapter will focus on the participation of Latina/o workers in past and contemporary labor struggles and the role that Latina/o workers can, should, and are likely to play in the labor movement in the 21st century. The emphasis, because it is the emphasis in the literature, will be on Mexican workers in the West and Southwest and, to a lesser degree, Puerto Rican workers on the East Coast. However, one of the aims of this chapter is to call attention to other Latina/o groups in the labor movement and to underscore the need for future research on these groups and other regions of the country, including the South, long a part of the country with very low levels of unionization. This chapter will provide a review of important labor campaigns in which Latina/o workers, often immigrant workers, played a critical role. Latina/o workers’ militancy revealed in this review belies stereotypes of the passive Latina/o and calls into question the claim by some in the labor movement that these workers were (and are) “unorganizable.” The chapter also offers contemporary evidence of Latina/o workers’ receptivity to unionization and the benefits of unionization for workers, including Latina/o workers, the group likely to benefit the most from a revitalized labor movement. Organized labor’s woes are discussed, as is its future and the future of Latina/o workers. Finally, this chapter prescribes what organized labor needs to do to organize Latina/o workers, including recognizing the heterogeneity of this population and the implications of this heterogeneity for organization, and what scholars can do to enhance our understanding of the evolving relationship between organized labor and Latinas/os.


Agricultural Worker Labor Movement Immigrant Worker Black Worker Work Stoppage 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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  • Héctor L. Delgado

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