This article examines the history of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) during the 1960s and early 1970s from a transnational perspective, exploring the ideological overlap between the union's domestic organizing efforts and its international affairs program. The UAW believed workers and their institutions were the catalysts for economic and political development in poor communities in the United States and developing nations abroad. In the United States, the UAW attempted to address the problems facing poor urban areas with solutions that went beyond the shop floor and state anti-poverty programs. Without an industrial base to unite workers on the job, the UAW funded and staffed community unions to mobilize the largely African American neighborhood of Watts and the Mexican American community of East Los Angeles forging an alliance between poor people, workers, and the labor movement. The Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) and the East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU) were designed to create jobs and housing, revitalize the local economy, and ultimately raise the purchasing power and standard of living of residents in these economically and politically marginalized areas of Los Angeles. This article demonstrates the way the UAW's community union movement was influenced by ideas about race, culture, and development that transcended national boundaries, linking urban communities in the United States with developing nations abroad.
Michael J. Murphy; Developing Communitites: The UAW and Community Unions in Los Angeles, 1965 1974. Labor 1 December 2009; 6 (4): 19–39. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-2009-029
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