UCLA Labor Center

CARE at Work


The Center for the Advancement of Racial Equity at Work (CARE at Work) engages Black workers and economic justice advocates and facilitates innovative solutions that address the needs of Black working-class people. Through a school to movement pathway of service, teaching, capacity building and research, our purpose is to reveal conditions of Black work in Southern California under glocal racial capitalism and model approaches for change.


CARE at Work focuses on Black equity, working with more than 32 unions and community organizations across Southern California to build strong Black worker centers to engage local workers; shape regional coordination, resource-sharing, and capacity building toward field development and co-produce relevant actionable research and policy learning to fuel change.  

Black workers today face three major challenges — the COVID-19 health crisis, economic disparities, and anti-Black racism and racial violence ingrained in our society, structures, and institutions of power. Poverty and the concentration of Black workers into low-wage, unregulated work (more than half of Southern California’s Black workers) increased Black workers’ exposure and vulnerability to illness, death, layoffs, and increased retaliation for raising COVID safety concerns. With the pandemic fallout, an astounding 84 percent of Black workers in California have filed for unemployment at some time during the pandemic. The continued racial terror by the police and the insurrection of January 6th, 2021 showed just how deep institutional racism and anti-Black Confederacy is in the United States.


This work serves to realize a California where advancing justice allows equity created around Black life to cascade into meaningful Black working conditions that sustain families and vibrant communities. It is comprised of three main elements:

Participatory Research and Narrative Shift
Community-led applied action research focused on the issues most salient to Black workers and their needs to inform corporate practice, policy learnings and systems change.*

  • Essential Stories is a 2000 worker survey and story collection project to measure the economic impacts of the pandemic on the lives of Black working people and to uplift their experiences and needs as nearly 85 percent of all Black California’s working-age adults filed for unemployment benefits in the last year between March 2020 – December 2020. This survey is conducted in partnership with the Southern California Hub for Regional Organizing, Los Angeles Black Worker Center, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement, Earthlodge Center for Transformation, SEIU 2015 and UDWA IE/SD.
  • City of LA Data Subcommittee Co-Chair Workforce Equity Demonstration Project in the City of Los Angeles, a High Road Training Partnership to build quality jobs and relevant training pathways into public works employment. Partners include: the 1000 Strong Coalition anchored by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Los Angeles Black Worker Center, SEIU 721 and AFSCME 3090, Bureau of Public Workers for the City of Los Angeles.
  • Workplace Retaliation and Restorative Justice Project is an innovative feasibility study to explore the potential role of restorative justice theories/practice in labor law enforcement. This project is done in partnership with the CA Labor and Workforce Agency Retaliation Unit and regional worker rights organizations.
  • Re-Imagined Recovery is a series of research and covenings focused on equity in the Los Angeles County public industry sector, examining the impact of disaster capitalism and austerity on the displacement of Black and women workers in the public sector. Reimagined Recovery: Black Workers, the Public Sector, and COVID-19
  • Ain’t No Sunshine Report – UCR report work supported and managed by UCLA CARE at Work
  • The mission of the Southern California Black Worker Hub (BW Hub) is to align progressive Black worker vision and voice in Southern California through centralized coordination that accelerates grassroots organizing movements and consolidates regional power to scale, positioning Black workers to win justice locally, regionally, statewide, and beyond. The BW Hub is comprised of the three affiliated Black Worker Centers in San Diego, Inland Empire, Los Angeles and are supported by nearly half a dozen Black-led and Black empowering organizations dedicated to worker rights and building sufficient Black worker power to reverse the Black jobs crisis in Southern California where more than 1.5 million Black Californians live and work.

Field Development
Capacity-building function for regional learning, coalition, and institution building toward organized Black workers and united voice, leading collective action that advances the position of Black workers and the families that rely on them in Southern California*

  • CARE at Work supports an emerging field of new worker centers and alliances focused on the diverse needs of Black workers in Southern California, Black centering immigrants, returning citizens, youth, and low-wage and unemployed workers.
  • CARE at Work supports the facilitation of the Black Labor Table, a roundtable that builds and facilitates bridges for building progressive leadership, durable networks, and winning Black strategic campaigns which empowers the Black working class and aims to strengthen union-community partnership.
  • CARE at Work sponsors We Gone Be Alright: Developing the Next Generation of Black Organizers through history, theory and practice. In partnership with UCLA Labor Studies, local community college and other campuses, students enrolled in We Gone Be Alright: Developing the Next Generation of Black Organizers course, learn from and build on Black labor and community organizing traditions, and develop the skills and mindsets needed for transformative leadership. Students connect with leaders of labor unions, community organizations, student organizations, and prepare for more intensive community-based work. 

School to Movement Pathways
Intercollegiate course offerings and fellowships for Black students to study, enter, stay, and grow in Black economic justice careers.

  • CARE at Work hosts Freedom Fellowship, a 10-week experiential opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience working with activists and community organizers involved in the movement for civic and economic justice for Black workers. This work will prioritize supporting Black Worker Centers across California with regional projects, policy solutions, and research studies. 


CARE at Work is powered by partnership with the Los Angeles Black Worker Center and the UCLA Labor Center. This work is supported by generous donors: Irvine Foundation, The California Wellness Foundation; Weingart Foundation and Kellogg Foundation.