The UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative has supported the efforts of California’s Unseen Latinas Initiative headed by UCLA Alumna and California Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (UCLA Law ‘99)

By Nick Gonzalez, Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI) Policy Analyst

 

Latinas make less than their male and female counterparts, have never served in a statewide elected position and remain underrepresented in corporate leadership positions. A new two-year effort launched by Asm. Lorena Gonzalez (UCLA Law ‘99) and the California Latino Caucus seeks to tackle the inequities that the state’s Latinas face.

UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative faculty and staff have been at the forefront of “Unseen Latinas” by providing expert testimony in its first year of public hearings to identify problems and solutions. Through cross-sectoral research, a team of UCLA LPPI female experts have been putting a data-driven lens on the educational, economic and career barriers that Latinas must overcome.

“By launching the Unseen Latinas initiative, California’s leaders are making it clear that they understand that the state’s continued economic prowess requires that Latinas have a fair chance to succeed and thrive,” said Sonja Diaz, UCLA LPPI founding director, who participated in the October 2020 launch event. “Especially as we emerge from the pandemic, it’s time to make sure that no one gets left behind in the recovery and bright future that lies ahead.”

Latinas make up nearly 20% of Californians, and Latina participation in the U.S. workforce was expected to grow by 26% in the next 10 years. Yet, new research from LPPI shows that Latinas exited the workforce amid the pandemic at higher rates than any other demographic amid the pandemic, making it clear that recovery efforts should provide specific assistance to help them recover financially and get back on their feet.

“California has an opportunity and responsibility to lead what it means to have a just and equal economy,” said Asm. Gonzalez. “UCLA LPPI has been a valuable partner on the Unseen Latinas Initiative. LPPI experts have shared key testimony by shining a light on the inequalities Latinas continue to face, as well as the opportunities that exist to make sure Latinas are no longer unseen and can participate in the state’s prosperous future.”

In an October conversation about the Latina wage gap, Diaz urged action to address the childcare and family obligations that pushed Latinas out of the workforce during the pandemic. Without a clear plan to bring them back into the labor market, the repercussions could be devastating for Latino families and for the state’s economy, she said.

UCLA LPPI expert Dr. Mary Lopez, an economics professor at Occidental College continued the conversation  in a January hearing on the labor market, testifying that policy solutions such as affordable childcare and job training would be essential in reducing workforce inequities for Latinas.

Part of the invisibility of the needs and strengths of the state’s Latinas comes from the lack of representation in media and popular culture. At an April hearing, UCLA LPPI expert Dr. Ana-Christina Ramón provided testimony from the UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report, which she co-founded and co-authors. Latinos and women are among the groups that remain underrepresented in film relative to their population size.

“We know that Hollywood plays a meaningful role in shaping how people perceive others around them,” Ramón said, who is also the director of research and civic engagement at the UCLA Division of Social Sciences. “When Latinas do not have starring roles or they are not seen as doctors, lawyers, or CEOs, that perpetuates the barriers that they face in achieving their full potential.”

The Unseen Latinas public hearings series also discussed the challenges that Latinas face in breaking into the legal field, with expert testimony from UCLA LPPI expert Jennifer Chacon. For example, the California Supreme Court is another glass ceiling for Latinas, where one has never served as a justice.

For information about the legislators leading Unseen Latinas and for details on upcoming hearings, please visit the Assembly website for the state’s Select Committee on Latina Inequities.

The UCLA California Policy Lab (CPL) recently released a new analysis of California unemployment insurance (UI) claims as part of a policy briefs series publishing research conducted in partnership with the Labor Market Information Division of the California Employment Development Department.

Overview
Historically, the share of unemployed workers receiving regular UI benefits (recipiency rate) in California has been relatively low (as has also been the case in other states). This Data Point combines administrative data from California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) with monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) data to construct an improved recipiency rate to measure the extent to which unemployed and underemployed Californians are receiving regular UI benefits.

Dr. Till von Wachter, a co-author of the analysis, UCLA economics professor and faculty director at the California Policy Lab, says about this new analysis, “The share of unemployed workers receiving UI benefits tends to rise during economic downturns, but even during the Great Recession, we didn’t approach the high rates that we’re seeing now.”

Three key findings from this new research:
1) The recipiency rate in California has increased dramatically over the course of the crisis, from about 50% in April to nearly 90% in December.  
The analysis found that over 2.5 million unemployed Californians were not receiving regular UI benefits in April and May 2020, and while some of these workers likely received benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, at least 500,000 workers did not. As the share of workers receiving regular UI benefits increased, the number of workers not receiving regular UI benefits decreased, hovering at around 250,000 in the last four months of 2020.
2) There are geographic disparities in the rates of UI benefit collection that correlate with income, race and ethnicity, access to technology, and other social and economic factors. In counties with higher median household incomes, a larger share of their unemployed workers tended to receive UI benefits, while a smaller share of unemployed workers received benefits in counties with higher poverty rates.
3) CPL’s Recovery Index highlights substantial county-level differences in the economic recovery. Higher-income counties have recovered more quickly than lower-income counties, while counties with a higher share of Black and Hispanic residents have seen slower recoveries than counties with more White residents.

To see the map which tracks the Labor Market Recovery, click HERE.

To see table code of County Level Measures of Economic Recovery and UI Recipient Rates, click HERE.

To read CPL’s latest policy brief on this issue, click HERE.

This Women’s History Month Take-Over features Dr. Safiya Noble, Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, African American Studies, and Gender Studies, and Dr. Sarah Roberts, Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies and Labor Studies at UCLA. They are the co-founders and co-directors of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry (C2i2). They discuss the importance, now more than ever, of social science research at the intersection of technology and society. Follow the center on Twitter @C2i2_UCLA and visit www.c2i2.ucla.edu for more information about the center’s cutting-edge research on the effects of social media and internet platforms on vulnerable communities and tech workers.

Happy Women’s History Month!

 

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Conducting a focus group with Mixtec farmworkers in Madera, California, 2018. Photo by Leopoldo Peña.

by Sayil Camacho, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University; and Gaspar Rivera-Salgado, Project Director, UCLA Labor Center

The California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) contracted with the UCLA Labor Center to evaluate the LWDA’s educational resources on workplace rights and health and safety for California farmworkers. The goal was to ensure that those resources were accessible to Mexican immigrant and Indigenous populations who may have limited or no English or Spanish literacy.

Most California farmworkers are Mexican immigrants (68%), and a third of those are Indigenous. They are multi-ethnic and multilingual; Spanish is not their first language, and they are more likely to be fluent in Mixteco, Zapoteco, Triqui, or Mayan. The Labor Center developed an evaluation system that allowed us to assess the literacy levels, language barriers, and accessibility of LWDA educational resources to identify the communication barriers that made Mexican immigrants and Indigenous people more vulnerable at work. In addition, we presented LWDA with a series of recommendations guided by the lived experiences of Mexican immigrants and Indigenous people: (1) support workplace rights and access to health and safety information; (2) build coalition-based support within the workforce and in collaboration with community advocacy groups; and (3) translate educational resources into oral-based languages.

Our goal was to understand why Indigenous farmworkers experience higher levels of poverty and more discrimination within and outside of the workplace and how those experiences create communication barriers. More specifically, we sought to understand the ways that power functions to disenfranchise Indigenous people politically, socially, and economically and exacerbates linguistic and cultural barriers. The examination of power within communication is referred to as a “structural humility” approach, which obliges researchers to recognize and affirm the human dignity of immigrant and Indigenous people. Our research challenged standard cross-cultural competency methods by operationalizing Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and critical race theory.

Using a structural humility approach grounded in the lived experiences of Indigenous migrant workers, we were able to identify the forces that determine workplace vulnerabilities, the shift in attitude required by the LWDA to reduce the number of worker rights violations and on-the-job injuries and deaths, and the practices needed to make LWDA’s educational materials truly accessible.

The process of creating academic knowledge has historically failed to center the experiences and voices of Indigenous peoples or break down the hierarchy of knowledge production between researchers, organizations, stakeholders, and historically marginalized populations. Collaborative research must do the extra work to identify the structures that separate academics from community collaborators and research participants. As the Zapotec intellectual Odilia Romero explained, “Bene shtill shla gune ratgr gushalgshu disha chego concha bi gat disha checho da bguan bene gurase checho, le kate gat disha cha, ka na gat neda [White people have to open the path and talk to us so that our word will not die, because when my word dies, I will die too].”

 

Access the full article “Lost in Translation ‘en el Fil’: Actualizing Structural Humility for Indigenous Mexican Farmworkers in California” HERE.

Sayil Camacho (PhD, University of California, Los Angeles) is the inaugural director of the master’s in leading organizations program in the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests aim to actualize transformative reform for oppressed and repressed populations.

Gaspar Rivera‑Salgado (PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz) is a project director at the UCLA Labor Center, where he teaches classes on work, labor, and social justice in the United States, and immigration issues.

Dr. Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear, assistant professor of sociology and American Indian Studies at UCLA, was interviewed on missing and murdered Indigenous women by “Vice News Tonight.” This episode investigates how Indigenous women and girls go missing and are murdered at an alarming rate in the United States. Vice News visits tribal communities in Montana facing the crisis head-on.

To watch the interview, click HERE.

LA Social Science recently spoke with Dr. Tyrone Howard, Professor of Education, Pritzker Family Endowed Chair in Education to Strengthen Families, and Director of the Black Male Institute, about the state of education during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Howard is seen as one of our country’s leader in multicultural education, social and political context of schools, urban education, social studies education, and educational experience of African American students.

Interview Chapters:

0:24 – Intro of Dr. Howard

1:10 – Is there any music or a book that has help you to get through this pandemic?

1:58 – Talk with us about the state of education?

8:00 – How are teachers dealing with this current moment?

10:23 – Talk with us about some of the projects you are working on which speak to moving the educational space toward a 25th century reality for all students?

14:15 – Any silver line to what we are currently experiencing?

 

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BBC’s Newsday interviewed Dr. Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear, UCLA Associate Professor of Sociology and American Indian Studies and a Northern Cheyenne tribal citizen.  She discusses how COVID-19 has hit Native American reservations like hers. “Every day there are funerals. We’ve lost so many people that if you actually look at the proportion of people we have lost to Covid in our community it would equal about 1.3 million Americans.”  To listen to the full interview, click HERE.

The UCLA California Policy Lab (CPL) recently released a new Data Point focused on the “Lost Wages Assistance” program that started on September 7th in California. After Congress couldn’t come to an agreement about a second stimulus plan, the President put forth this program. CPL’s research team found that about 192,000 California workers will not qualify to receive the $300 benefit, because they do not already receive at least $100 in unemployment insurance benefits. The vast majority (82.5%) of people who will be ineligible to receive the $300 benefit are adults over the age of 20. Over 60% of ineligible claimants are female and over 57% have a high school degree or less.

UCLA Director of the California Policy Lab, Dr. Till von Wachter, told The Sacramento Bee, “While the program will be a temporary boost for unemployed Californians, it’s a 50% reduction from the $600 that unemployed Californians were previously receiving.”

 

 

To read the “Data Point,” click HERE.

To read CPL’s latest policy briefs on this issue, click HERE.

By Sophia L. Ángeles, Graduate Student Researcher; Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Project Director, UCLA Labor Center; and Saba Waheed, Research Director, UCLA Labor Center

This past June, the UCLA Labor Center, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Community College District Dolores Huerta Labor Institute and California State University, Long Beach, published two studies examining workers and learners—college students who also work—and their unique educational and work experiences. We employed a methodology that was student-driven, engaging more than 450 undergraduate students to collect 869 surveys and conduct 75 interviews with UCLA, California Community College, and California State University workers and learners across Los Angeles County. Our hope is that these findings will provide information for colleges, employers, and policymakers to improve conditions for workers and learners.

Two-thirds of workers and learners work every single term of their undergraduate careers—the new normal for many students pursuing higher education. A majority work in low-wage jobs in the service industry. Forced to work as many hours as possible to make ends meet, two-thirds miss at least one educational opportunity because of work duties. Juggling work and school leads many to forgo internship and work-study opportunities in their fields of study that could improve opportunities in their future careers. Their situation is so stressful and overwhelming that 40% of workers and learners have considered withdrawing from school.

Graphic: Eunice Ho

Iris López, a recent UCLA Labor Studies graduate, explains the predicaments workers and learners face in their struggle to attend school and keep up with living expenses:

“My biggest concern has always been my ability to finance my education. My mother is a single parent who works in the fields. I feel guilty asking for help because I know she is struggling herself. Education should not cost us our ability to eat or cause concern over how we’re going to pay the next few units.”

 

Graphic: Eunice Ho

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated conditions for workers and learners, as half were laid off, terminated, or furloughed in April and May. As schools moved to minimize the spread of COVID-19, one quarter of workers and learners were forced to make housing changes, such as moving back in with family or vacating student housing. The housing situation has further impacted learners who must attend classes remotely while managing home responsibilities, like caring for younger siblings or family members who have fallen ill.

Graphic: Eunice Ho

What can be done?

Current trends point to increasing tuition and living expenses for college students, making it likely that more will have to work to offset those financial burdens.

Addressing the needs of workers and learners requires investing in California’s education system to achieve the following:

  • Support learners as workers by ensuring a living wage, accommodating work schedules, and supporting students’ workplace organizing efforts.
  • Strengthen career and educational pathways by making career resources more accessible, supporting paid internships that advance career goals, and increasing opportunities for networking and mentorship.
  • Support workers as learners by making college affordable or free and expanding work-study opportunities.
  • Provide holistic support by increasing access to mental health services and addressing food and housing insecurity.

 

Report: Unseen Costs: The Experiences of Workers and Learners in Los Angeles County (click to download)

Brief: A Survey of Los Angeles Workers and Learners During COVID-19 (click to download)

 

Sophia L. Ángeles is a graduate student researcher with the UCLA Labor Center’s Worker and Learner project and a UCLA PhD candidate. Her research focuses on the intersection of immigration and language to examine newcomer youths’ educational experiences and their K–16 trajectories.

Janna Shadduck-Hernández, Ed.D., is a project director at the UCLA Labor Center and teaches for UCLA Labor Studies and the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Her research and teaching focus on developing culturally relevant, participatory educational models with first- and second-generation university students, community members, and youth, with a focus on the organizing efforts of low-wage workers to combat labor and workplace violations.

Saba Waheed is research director at the UCLA Labor Center. She has over fifteen years of research experience developing projects with strong community participation. With her team at the Labor Center, she coordinated the first ever study of domestic work employers, launched a study of young people in the service economy, and conducted research on the taxi, garment, nail salon, construction, and restaurant industries.

grandriver/Getty Images

“Indigenous Peoples across the country continue to be disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. As of May 18, 2020, the Navajo Nation has the highest Covid-19 case rates surpassing New York, the pandemic’s epicenter in the United States. As the virus spreads, Indigenous Peoples and nations in the United States face stark disparities in accessing resources to protect their communities—not the least of which relate to data.”

In this recent Items article, Dr. Randall Akee, UCLA Associate Professor of Public Policy and American Indian Studies, and Dr. Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear, UCLA Assistant Professor in Sociology and American Indian Studies, along with Dr. Stephanie Russo Carroll, Annita Lucchesi, and Dr. Jennifer Rai Richards come to the conclusion that Indigenous communities need more data that advance Indigenous rights and interests, and they need action to hold the federal government accountable to its treaty obligations and advance systemic change that dismantles racism.

To read the complete article titled, “Indigenous Data in the Covid-19 Pandemic: Straddling Erasure, Terrorism, and Sovereignty,” click HERE.