Workers using their voices and harnessing their power
The business model in too many industries is one that exploits workers who are economically vulnerable, particularly because of their immigration status, language differences, or where they live. Before COVID19, “normal” in many workplaces was low wages, no paid leave, lack of respect and unaddressed health and safety hazards for the millions of workers who create the wealth for others.
As the U.S. rebuilds its economy, our vision is more equitable and just employment for all. Our immediate goal is making mandatory and enforceable the CDC COVID guidelines for employers, as well as a nationwide adoption of an Essential Workers Bill of Rights.
Above: Eddline Laraque, Habacuc Petion and Garline Lamy with the organization Rebirth worked in partnership with the Dorchester County Health Department to conduct COVID testing at Amick Farms poultry plant in Hurlock, MD.
WORKER HEALTH & SAFETY
Every day in the U.S., about 2,500 workers suffer an injury severe enough to miss work. An average of 14 workers per day suffer fatal injuries. This incidents disproportionately affect immigrants and people of color. Employers are obligated by law to address health and safety hazards, but many do not take this duty seriously.
Our network not only provides health and safety training to workers, but we educate workers about their rights. We organize workers and they use their power to demand from employers and government agencies that safety protections are paramount.
Above: Members of Centro de Derechos Laborales promote worker rights and safety in Bryan, TX on May Day 2019.
The exploitation that many workers face on the job disenfranchises them from their rights and any sense of worker power. To break this oppression, workers need to organize and build strength. We follow a participatory model that leads workers to identify how to change power dynamics on the job and to reject the abusive conditions they no longer want to endure.
Using popular education methodology in meetings and trainings, we encourage critical thinking and foster the collective production of knowledge. We analyze the root causes of economic exploitation and oppression. We provide the space and tools for workers to envision what they deserve at work and encourage them to strategically take action. We strive for workers to find for themselves—and then to claim—the unique power that only workers have through their labor.
Above: Members of the Western North Carolina Workers' Center speak to the press at a demonstration at the Case Farms poultry plant in Morganton, NC. They were joined by allies from Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Texas.
Our network builds collective power with occupational health experts, legal, philanthropic, labor, and grassroots organizations, as well as with interfaith and social justice groups. We are part of coalitions and networks at the national and regional level.
We develop worker-led strategic campaigns, we support the campaigns of allies, and we coordinate strategies with them to amplify our collective demands to employers, government agencies, shareholders, and consumers.
We seek allies who embrace the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, noting the Articles concerning freedom of association, an adequate standard of living and social protections, and favorable conditions of work that uphold the right to life and human dignity.
Above: Domestic Workers Without Borders and Fe y Justicia Worker Center in Houston at a strategic planning convening.