Unions a catalyst for civic engagement, study finds

October 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Labor union experiences lead Latino immigrants to greater civic participation, a USC Dornsife study found.

The findings suggest that members independently and, without prompting from the union, draw upon their skills to bring about change in their lives, said Veronica Terriquez, assistant professor of sociology in USC Dornsife.

"People learn to run meetings, communicate problems effectively and use existing processes and protocols," Terriquez said. "This empowers people to help themselves and their children."

The study by Terriquez was published in the .

The experience of mobilizing protests and participating in campaigns helped Latino immigrants overcome their limited education and limited English skills, the study reported.

Terriquez examined the participation of Latino immigrants in a labor union and their children's schools to find out how one type of civic engagement shaped participation in another area. She surveyed and interviewed parents who were in labor unions and compared their civic participation to that of nonunion parents.

The study found that union participation, not itself, led to greater .

The skills acquired in the union did not lead to greater involvement in organized school events, parent meetings or volunteering. But participation did correspond to activities aimed at school improvement, problem solving, advocacy and organizing, the study found.

"They may not become a fixture at City Council meetings or a super volunteer for the PTA, but they are more likely to resolve issues that affect their family and immediate community," Terriquez said. "The union experience helped them learn how to stand up for themselves."

The research was supported by the University of California Labor and Employment Research Fund and the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation.

Explore further: Unions make both members and nonmembers happier

Related Stories

Unions make both members and nonmembers happier

November 5, 2010

It’s no coincidence that American workers have never been more dissatisfied with their jobs, and labor unions’ membership keeps dropping, according to a new study co-authored by University of Notre Dame political ...

Unions make both members, nonmembers happier

February 25, 2011

As the Wisconsin battle over union benefits continues to rage, the passion and commitment of people on both sides reflect that the activists are fighting over “a perennial ideological debate in American politics: whether ...

Recommended for you

Predicting the future with the wisdom of crowds

June 23, 2017

Forecasters often overestimate how good they are at predicting geopolitical events—everything from who will become the next pope to who will win the next national election in Taiwan.

UN says world population will reach 9.8 billion in 2050

June 22, 2017

India's population is expected to surpass China's in about seven years and Nigeria is projected to overtake the United States and become the third most populous country in the world shortly before 2050, a U.N. report said ...

Authenticity key to landing a new job

June 22, 2017

At job interviews, relax and be yourself - if you're good, being yourself may be the best way to secure a job offer, according to a new study involving UCL researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.