“More Justice”: The Role of Organized Labor in Educational Reform

This article explores the potential role of low-wage service sector unions in engaging in equity-minded school reform. The members of many such unions are parents of children attending poorly resourced public schools. In seeking to address the interests of their members, labor unions can draw upon resources, organizing strategies, and political relationships to contribute to grassroots campaigns for educational equity. Data gathered in Los Angeles from labor and civic leaders, as well as janitors belonging to the Service Employees International Union Local 1877, reveal possibilities for low-wage service sector unions to build alliances around educational reform issues and support their members’ individual capacities to advocate for their own children in schools. At the same time, low-wage service sector unions face challenges to participating in school reform efforts, including prioritizing education issues among other competing interests and identifying common ground with teachers’ unions.

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Veronica Terriquez

John Rogers

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