Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) is a non-profit community-based organization established in 1965. WLCAC was organized by labor union members living in the Watts area, under the leadership of Ted Watkins, a long-time resident of Watts, and with the support and encouragement of seven international unions and staff members from the UCLA Institute of Industrial Relations. The intent of the labor union members in forming WLCAC was to put their union skills and organizational experience to work in the community in which they and their families lived. The group of union members sought to improve and revitalize the community by promoting and providing much needed services to its neglected citizens and by building in permanency through the development of an economic base that was necessary to create a healthy, self-sustaining segment of the Greater Los Angeles area. Starting with a total treasury of $5.30, and depending solely on the support of volunteers, WLCAC has grown to be one of the largest and most successful community based organizations in the world, with an international reputation for expertise in community self determination.
Today, WLCAC has over 350 employees on its payroll, with an annual operating budget of approximately $20 million. WLCAC's initial major achievement was the successful campaign for the construction of the Martin Luther King/Drew Hospital in the Watts/ Willowbrook area. WLCAC members coordinated the efforts of more than 80 different organizations in a concentrated campaign, and recruited several hundred volunteers to help put a $12.3 million Watts hospital (Proposition A) bond issue on the June 1966 primary ballot, and to provide the required two-thirds vote. Despite the many obstacles, WLCAC and its collaborators were successful in winning the citizens' support for the proposed hospital with 62.5% (just 5% short of the required two-thirds vote) of the voters supporting it. The community's unified front enabled WLCAC to continue to press the issue until funds for construction were finally secured.
From its inception, WLCAC has focused its attention on developing programs and services that address the community's complex needs. The organization provides health services, skills training, employment, senior citizens' nutrition and day care, child care and development, community transit and dial-a-ride services, education, consumer protection, community beautification and urban greening, voter registration and participation, children and family welfare, crime prevention, art and culture, energy and water conservation, technology, increased recreational facilities, low income housing, single-family homes, and community owned and managed commercial properties. There is no end to the number of people WLCAC-provided services or activities have benefited over the years.
Funding for WLCAC's programs and services has come from federal, state and local governments, as well as from private foundation and corporation grants. Yet WLCAC has also developed several components which generate and recycle income within the community it serves.
WLCAC's mission is community-oriented, no matter what changes in demographics may occur. In 1966, WLCAC and the United Farm Workers joined forces to address the plight of the immigrant worker. It was also in 1966 that WLCAC participated in the formation of community unions in other parts of Los Angeles. One such effort resulted in the formation of The East Los Angeles Community Action Committee, later renamed The East Los Angeles Community Union or TELACU.
Under Ted Watkins' administration, WLCAC played an important role in planning and developing international anti-poverty programs. Not only has WLCAC assisted thousands of local residents by facilitating the education, skills, and job placement assistance necessary for long-term employment, WLCAC has developed a sister agency in Great Britain that is successfully transitioning local residents from poverty and welfare-dependency to a working, self-sufficient lifestyle. – less–ZoomInfo