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"Established in 1968 to improve conditions in the barrio of East Los Angeles, the East Los Angeles Community Union has had a pronounced impact on the area, providing social services, helping increase political representation, and, most notably, promoting economic development, particularly through extensive real estate dealings. The history of TELACU is especially significant because it has provided a model for community development in other Mexican-American neighborhoods throughout the Southwest (including Oakland, California; San Antonio, Texas; Embudo, New Mexico; and Phoenix, Arizona).

TELACU and other ethnic community development corporations also offer a successfully tested general model of cooperative economic development for the nation’s cities. Though this model cannot end poverty in America and its attendant problems, it offers a vision of economically self-sufficient communities equitably integrated into larger regional and national bodies for mutual improvement.

Moreover, as nonprofit, cooperative institutions that operate between government and business, organizations like TELACU offer a viable alternative in a world where many have rejected the extremes of collectivism, but still suspect capitalism. Such community development corporations can help prepare society for the larger cooperative efforts necessary for the progress of national and global communities."

-Stanford University Press



Publication Date



Stanford University Press


Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, TELACU, Trade Unions, Community Development


Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Politics and Social Change | Social History | United States History


For reissuing Eastside Landmark nearly twenty years after initial publication, I would like to thank present and past SMU librarians Dillon Wackerman and James Kessenides, as well as SMU Scholar and Stanford University Press. In this new open-access format the book should reach a new audience interested in a precursor to the new urbanism. Despite its subtitle, A History of the East Los Angeles Community Union, the book should be read as the history of an innovative business, rather than a labor union. As a community development corporation, this institution combined the insights of liberals and conservatives to help revive Mexican-American and other working-class neighborhoods through the dynamic efforts of both trade unionists and business people. The work thus carries a pragmatic message for cooperative progress in twenty-first-century America.

John Chávez Faculty Webpage

Eastside Landmark: A History of the East Los Angeles Community Union, 1968-1993