Founded in 2013, we are a not-for-profit organization based in Silicon Valley, CA with the goal of unifying our community to achieve real, long-lasting changes in the areas of jobs, education and health.
The organization was started in March 7 of 2013 by a group of Latino activists and grass-roots organizers who had spent their careers as community activists and organizers in labor unions including the United Farmworkers.
Our vision is to use a method employed in the early days of the United Farmworkers Organizing Committee wherein organizing began at the micro-level through home meetings organized within precincts. Through a process of listening and then helping those who speak see a way that they can effect change, we are organizing immigrants street-by-street and precinct-by-precinct.
LUNA’s mission is to help Latino immigrants take positive action to address the poverty-related challenges that have hit the Latino immigrant community so hard since the great recession
We are following a two-step process to empower these individuals. First we are raising awareness by holding many small meetings in selected precincts where those in attendance define their problems and begin to receive information about actions that it is possible to take to address those problems. Second, we are organizing those who have attended the small, home meetings to engage in a number of civil actions that provide the opportunity for groups to voice their concerns publicly. By concentrating our efforts in a few strategic precincts, we hope to demonstrate to the people in those precincts that they can have influence when they band together.
We began to hold home meetings in March of 2013. Home meetings are a basic organizing mechanism for us. This mode of organizing will continue indefinitely. It is a process by which small groups of people with related concerns come together, voice those concerns, and begin to plan ways to address the concerns.
In the initial months of our home meetings, immigration issues emerged as most significant. Accordingly, we formed the Immigrant Justice Labor Alliance (IJLA) at the end of 2013. The IJLA was an alliance between LUNA and several labor unions. It was meant to be a short-term partnership concentrated on helping the local Immigrant Rights Movement to become more strategic as well as more vocal in its actions.
The strategy consisted of an escalation campaign where we organize several in your face, including civil disobedience, public actions during the first half of 2014, building membership in the movement with each action. This escalation technique is one used by labor unions in contract negotiations. Four such actions were held between January and May of 2014. The January action attracted about 250 people. The February action involved about 300. The April action involved more than 500 people and the May Day action involved about 6,000. We estimate that the series of actions involved 7 to 8 thousand people in some manner. These civil actions brought people together around an issue of deep concern to them.
We then began building on the momentum generated by thoseactions with a get out the vote campaign called Tu Voz es Tu Voto, Your Voice is Your Vote. This campaign had two objectives. First, we hope to convince enough immigrants that we have a role in the outcome of the City Council election in Districts 5 and 7 in East San José, where many of the immigrants reside and, perhaps, in the mayoral election as well. Second, we wanted to further clarify the issues of most concern to the residents of those two districts.
Phase I of this campaign involved canvassing the two districts and asking residents to complete a survey which contains questions that concern ways to improve the quality of life for people in their neighborhoods. In total, we mobilized 66 4-hour volunteer shifts in our target neighborhoods and were able to complete nearly 200 surveys. One culmination of that process was the primary election. Prior to that election, we held two well-attended candidate forums.
In early August we started Phase II of Tu Voz es Tu Voto. We expect that the November election will be a second culminating event. Like the primary, however, it is a milestone in a process. Over the coming four months, our aim is to organize 10 neighborhood committees in our target precincts. Each neighborhood committee will have a captain and 6 to 7 members. Their role is further organization of their immediate neighborhood. They will organize home meetings, using the results of the survey as the means to begin the discussion among attendees about issues uppermost in their minds and means to address those issues. Out of those discussions will come a variety of further targeted actions in the month of September and October.
As an adjunct to the continuing neighborhood organizing work, we are organizing residents of our target neighborhoods for a mayoral candidate forum that we aim to hold in late September or early October. With the preparation of neighborhood residents that is a product of our work with them over the past year and a half, we hope to have several hundred participants in attendance ready to question the candidates in some detail about how they hope to address the concerns of most significance to Latino immigrants, and impoverished Latinos.
Over the longer term, we will continue to build the neighborhood committees and involve members of those committees in undertakings that either publicize their issues to a larger public or that involve groups of committees in projects to see that their issues are addressed by elected officials. Such projects might include advocacy of legislation addressing issues of concern, attendance at City Council, County Supervisor, and, eventually, State Assembly meetings and hearings when issues of concern to committee members are discussed or voted on. It will also involve bringing elected officials to neighborhood committee gatherings to work with those in attendance to devise measures that hold the possibility of resolving issues of concern to the membership.