The Beyond OSHA Project began in 2008 with generous funding from the Public Welfare Foundation through its Workers Rights program. With technical assistance and policy advice, we support the efforts of worker centers, social justice organizations and other groups to improve working conditions for low-wage, immigrant and other vulnerable workers. We focus particularly on activities and campaigns to improve health and safety on the job. We provide public health expertise, and facilitate collaboration and communication with policymakers and the press about the impact of work on health and economic disparities.
The Public Welfare Foundation's 12-years of support totalled more than $1.8 million, with a substantial portion dedicated to advancing worker health and safety protections through the worker center movement. Groups receiving financial support from the Beyond OSHA Project included Fe y Justicia Worker Center, New Labor, Workers’ Center of Central New York, Centro de Derechos Laborales and the Poultry Workers Coaltion.
"OSHA" in our project's name refers to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the equivalent state agencies. "Beyond OSHA" means workers recognizing that having safe jobs on each and every shift is not going to occur by ceding the task to OSHA. Organized workers can claim their power and use tactics and strategies that go beyond just relying on OSHA.
Above: Members of our network traveled from California, Nebraska, North Carolina and Washington, and joined students and local faith leaders in a demonstration at the gates of a Sanderson Farms poultry plant. We were demanding that the company give workers have access to the bathroom when nature calls. The October 2018 action was organized by Centro de Derechos Laborales in Bryan, TX.
Harnessing worker power for safe jobs and justice
The worker centers in our network use an inclusive and participatory model to organize campaigns to improve working conditions in their communities. Our centers have forced changes in employer behavior and compelled government to respond to wage, safety and other labor violations.
Worker centers are community labor organizations that help workers experience the power of collective action. These worker-led organizations provide an environment where community members can learn and develop their organizing and leadership skills Worker centers are a safe space for workers to weigh the risks and to strategize the best approaches to demanding improvements on the job.
Above: Members of the Western North Carolina Workers' Center in January 2020.
Our diversity and a passion for workers' rights makes us strong
Right: Ahmed Ali of the Greater Minnesota Worker Center, Martha Ojeda with Interfaith Worker Justice, and Nora Morales of el Centro de Derechos Laborales met in St. Cloud, MN during October 2019.