Compton Local Pres: "I was able to access the middle class through public sector employment."

It has long been known that public sector employment lifts black workers into the middle class. But now a new study supported by the LA Labor Federation reaffirms the importance of unions for African Americans by focusing on the  economic and social benefits of government jobs in Los Angeles. 

Compton Local 3947 President Collee Fields was among several Council 36 members interviewed for the study, in which they were asked to share personal stories substantiating the findings.

"They asked for my perspective on what being a black public service provider has done for me and my family," Fields said, noting that she will also be speaking on the subect at the MLK labor breakfast at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel on Saturday.

For LA’s black community, which had a poverty rate of over 20 percent in 2017, public sector unionized employment "has long been an avenue to join the middle class," according to the report.PDF iconblack_workers_research_report_infographic_final.pdf

"In the face of new federal threats to union employment—such as the Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) decision—it is more important than ever to understand how public sector employment impacts Black workers. This study confirms that Black workers and Black middle-class communities would disproportionately be affected by actions against both unions and the stable, well-paying jobs that they have been able to create in public sector employment." 

Fields knows all about it. 

"My public service position allowed me access to the middle class, which gave me financial stability and benefits to provide for my two children.  This was a blessing especiallly when my 21 year old daughter who was also a single parent was diagnosed with kidney failure," she said. "She was on dialysis for 8 years and received a donor kidney almost 5 years ago. I was able to take off work to care for her and my grandson after her transplant without fear of losing my job."

The LA Labor Federation partnered with the Advancement Project and the LA Black Worker Center to conduct this study.  AFSCME Locals 3947, 2325 and 3090 all participated, in coordination with Council 36.