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Remember what it was like to be a kid? What would you have done, at 12 years old, if you couldn’t breathe because of the oil drilling site next door? What if, at 16 you were sent to jail for being late to school? What would you do today if you lost your home because the landlord increased your rent beyond your means?

Would you be paralyzed by fear or would you fight back?

Student Organizing At UCLA—Lessons Outside The Classroom

I remember vividly the very first protest I participated in at UCLA. It was fall 2006. I was a freshman, and it was the first day of class. “What’s all the commotion about?” I wondered. I walked by the protest and saw members of the Afrikan Student Union (ASU) yelling something on bullhorns. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but I felt their passion and conviction and was impressed by the hundreds of students they had organized.
This was my first glimpse at successful organizing, which would eventually serve me well—both as a UCLA Afrikan Student Union leader and later as a program assistant/intern at Liberty Hill.

Unionizing Carwash Workers—It Won’t Be Easy

After the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, a Liberty Hill grantee, uncovered massive violations of wage and health and safety laws, two carwash owners, brothers Benny and Nisan Pirian, were investigated by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office and charged in a 174-count criminal complaint. The brothers subsequently were sentenced to a year in jail for minimum-wage violations, a loud wake-up call to owners of LA’s 500 carwashes. At the moment, no carwash workers are unionized. And until this recent verdict, little incentive existed for owners to treat workers well. But behind the scenes, the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, a coalition of 140 community, health, safety and labor groups in LA, has been engaging in a particularly complex process of union organizing.

Janitors Fast To Protest Layoffs

The six janitors, members of SEIU-USWW’s Justice for Janitors movement, haven’t eaten since Monday, in protest against JP Morgan Chase, which laid off 19 SEIU-USWW janitors at its Century Plaza Towers.
As if janitors didn’t have it hard enough already,19 had been laid off and the remaining 57 janitors told to handle the full cleaning services that all 76 had originally performed, despite the 20% staff reduction.
Nowadays businesses requiring fewer employees to handle the same amount of work has become all too familiar, hasn’t it. And that's part of the point. The union says that these 19 janitors represent many more, and that SEIU is sending a message "industry-wide." )

Black Infants' Health Tied to Mothers’ Health

It shouldn’t be any surprise that mortality among African American babies is significantly higher than among other babies.
In fact, nationwide, African American infants have 2.4 times the mortality rate as non-Hispanic white babies. This troubling statistic and many others are readily available on the website of the Office of Minority Health, an office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Given poverty in this state and county, our tattered safety net, the lack of access to decent medical care with which many African American residents contend, inadequate awareness around health, the troubled school system, the toxic substances and tainted water found in some neighborhood environments—not to mention the stresses of life that cause hardships on the body—of course Black babies often start life with compromised health, and others die at or shortly after birth.

Struggling Against Poverty, For Transparency

Liberty Hill is greatly dismayed about the difficulty in securing services for the poor and has supported California Partnership, a statewide coalition of more than 120 community groups, in its efforts to combat poverty.
In March 2010 CAP kicked off a statewide campaign for budget transparency at a community forum in Los Angeles funded by Liberty Hill. The 100 community members in attendance listened attentively, first to Jean Ross of California Budget Project and then to a panel of elected officials: Assemblymembers Bob Blumenfield; Hector de la Torre and Karen Bass. The community leaders were heartened when these Assemblymembers asserted their strong interest in creating a transparent budgetary process.