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The effects of a widening wealth gap in the United States are magnified in the Black Community because of the persistence of institutional racism, resulting in constricted labor market opportunities for African Americans. Black communities suffer from the broad impacts of racism, transformed neighborhoods and networks after de-segregation, and rapidly changing demographics in metropolitan areas. While many localities struggle against these forces, few communities engage in campaigns to improve the numbers of jobs and also the quality of jobs held by African Americans. Millions of Black workers toil for low wages, few benefits, little prospects for advancement, and no on-the-job protection. The Black Worker Project at the UC Berkeley Labor Center focuses on job quality issues in the Black community. We are especially concerned with how to support local community organizing with useful tools, including high quality research and leadership training, which can lead to concrete policy solutions that have a real impact on the jobs situation locally and nationally.

Research & Publications

Ken Jacobs, Steven C. Pittsand Brenda Muñoz

Labor Center statement on the recent killings of Black people

The Labor Center understands that workers are whole human beings whose lives go beyond their workplace and whose work lives are deeply affected by what happens in their communities. When Black people suffer racist attacks in their communities—whether the attacks come in the form of police and extrajudicial violence, or underfunded public education, or exposure to environmental degradation, or mass incarceration—these are workers’ rights issues.

UC Berkeley Labor Center

RELEASE: Unions raise wages and increase benefits for women, workers of color, and immigrants in California

A new study from UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education (Labor Center) shows that workers in California have higher wages and greater access to benefits when covered by a union contract, and those workers who earn the least in non-union workplaces—women, people of color, and immigrants—gain the most.

Program Contact

Danielle Mahones

Director, Leadership Development Program