Lola Smallwood Cuevas’s work focuses on exploring the role of unions, empowering African American workers in Los Angeles, and strengthening the position of the black working class. She founded the Los Angeles Black Worker Center (BWC), a project of the UCLA Labor Center and the first worker center in California focused on solving the black job crisis. The BWC aims to build power among black workers to create greater access to quality jobs, address employment discrimination, and transform industries that employ black workers. The BWC grew out of Lola’s work coordinating the UCLA African American Leadership School (AALS). Begun in 2002, the AALS focused on developing the next generation of workplace leaders through popular education.
Before joining the Labor Center, Lola worked as political and community coordinator for the SEIU Local 1877 Security Organizing Campaign. She has a background in journalism, working as a daily beat writer for the Chicago Tribune, Long Beach Press Telegram, and the Oakland Tribune, where she was introduced to organizing as a member of the East Bay Newspaper Guild. In addition to conducting worker research, training, and education, Lola is co-editor of the UCLA Labor Center publication Women’s Work: Los Angeles Homecare Workers Revitalize the Labor Movement (2009) and co-author of “Common Cause,” a chapter on LA’s black community and labor in the UCLA Bunche Center publication Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities (NY University Press, 2010).