Black history is inseparable from the history of the labor movement and the history of SEIU Local 721. From the beginning, the fight for worker rights in the United States has been led, shaped and won by Black activists – from household names, to influential labor, civic and religious leaders, to millions of every day people determined to secure their rights. This Black History Month, we’ll be spotlighting some of those who have made SEIU Local 721 the leader in the fight for economic and racial justice that it is today.
For decades, Linda Dent was the heart of SEIU workers in LA County.
Born in Louisiana and raised in Compton, Linda began her career as an LA County Tax Collector Office Clerk and member of Local 660. From these everywoman beginnings, she would go on to become a dedicated, unrelenting champion for working people and the underserved in Southern California.
Her passion, sincerity and ability to relate with anyone made her a fixture on the SEIU 721 executive board, where she became the first Black and first Woman president of our local.
As a member of the bargaining team for LA County, Dent pioneered the strategy of joining with community allies to push county government to adopt programs that helped a broad cross section of working-class and poor Angelenos, in addition to members of her union.
A fierce fighter for justice, Linda led the way on the Fight for $15 campaign, that set a new standard for wages, first in Los Angeles and, eventually, the entire state of California.
She continually advocated for LA’s underserved communities, fighting to expand social programs and job opportunities across the Southland. She never forgot where she came from and two of her signature causes were the Compton Job Fair and the Targeted Local Hire program.
Linda passed away in 2021 after battling pancreatic cancer, but her legacy is visible every single day. From the activists and organizers she inspired and mentored, to the elected and community leaders who were shaped by her work, to the millions of Californians that she helped lift out of poverty, Linda’s commitment to compassion, dignity and justice for all people remains the beating heart of SEIU Local 721.