Student Spotlight – Luis R. Garcia Chavez

Meet UCLA undergraduate researcher Luis R. Garcia Chavez!

Luis R. Garcia Chavez majors in Political Science and Labor Studies, minors in Public Affairs, and participated in our Summer Research Incubator! The title of his project is “Tracing A Perpetual Struggle: Do Immigration Rates Affect Unionization?” His work explores the intersection of immigration and labor. His best piece of advice is to not be intimidated to ask for help!

How did you first get interested in your research project?

I came from an immigrant, working-class household who has faced struggles with poverty, abuse from employers, and lack of power. As a result, I was drawn to to the opportunity to explore the intersection of immigration and labor. I specifically wanted to understand how immigration may affect unionization, and the reason why immigrants fall behind unionization compared to other workers.

What has been the most exciting aspect of your research so far?

The most exciting aspect of my research is understanding the designs and methods that are needed for analysis. Before this program, I vaguely understood the different methods used in research papers but did not know how to replicate the process. But with the SRI program, I was able to practice and achieve familiarity with quantitative analysis that leaves the door open for me to explore other research questions.

What has surprised you about your research or the research process?

An often overlooked part of worker organizations that academia doesn’t explore enough is how the structures of industry affects unionization. For example, in the janitorial industry in Los Angeles, building owners don’t directly hire the janitorial staff; instead they create a contract with a third-party company that hires the staff. This makes it difficult for unionization to occur as the building owner would just end the contract with the janitorial company to prevent rising labor costs. This impedes unionization and even prevents labor enforcement.

What is one piece of advice you have for other UCLA students thinking about doing research?

Don’t be intimidated to ask for help when you don’t know something about research. Your mentors and research leads hold years of experience that you can tap into to make your research more valid and reliable.

What effect do you hope your research has in your field, at UCLA, in your community, or in the world?

I hope my research inspires other students to conduct further research on the intersection of immigration and unions. Furthermore, I hope this inspires students and policymakers to enact revolutionary reforms to truly change the status quo.