Schools for Democracy

Some labor unions actively involve their members, including those who are immigrants, in workplace and political campaigns. How does this labor union experience impact members’ civic participation? “’Schools for Democracy: Labor Union Participation and Latino Immigrant Parents’ School-Based Civic Engagement,” published by Veronica Terriquez in the August 2011 issue of American Sociological Review explores whether Latino immigrant parents acquire useful civic skills through union membership and activities. Specifically, she uses surveys and interview data gathered from Latino immigrant janitors and other workers in Los Angeles to examine whether participating in union campaigns and protests shapes parents’ involvement in their children’s schools. Evidence indicates that active union members tend to become involved in school activities that allow them to voice their interests and exercise leadership at the school site. Union experience motivates some Latino immigrant parents to become more assertive when participating in activities at their children’s schools, while giving others problem-solving, organizing, and advocacy skills that help them address school-related concerns. This study suggests that union participation may have benefits beyond the workplace. Union involvement can provide low-wage Latino immigrant and other workers with civic skills that help them work toward improving educational opportunities for their children.

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As the national organization for sociologists, the American Sociological Association, through its Executive Office, is well positioned to provide a unique set of services to its members and to promote the vitality, visibility, and diversity of the discipline. Working at the national and international levels, the Association aims to articulate policy and implement programs likely to have the broadest possible impact for sociology now and in the future.

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