Community Organizers, Worker Centers Get Big LIFT

Photo courtesy of VOZ

The AFL-CIO announced today the third round of LIFT [Labor Innovation Fund for the Twenty-First Century] Fund grants, which will be awarded to a diverse group of organizations that are organizing workers outside of traditional models.  Past recipients include the Los Angeles Black Worker Center, which helps workers such as LeDaya Epps to find good-paying jobs through apprenticeship programs. LeDaya attended the 2015 State of the Union address at the invitation of first lady Michelle Obama.

The VOZ Workers Center in Portland, Ore., is one of the grant recipients, and Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain said:

In Oregon, we stand up for all workers and are proud to help support innovative partnerships that help with that fight. We’re proud to be a labor partner in the LIFT Fund’s grant process and even more excited to help fuel worker empowerment.

The fund was established in 2011 as a partnership between the AFL-CIO and philanthropic institutions that share the federation’s vision for a world in which workers are treated by employers with the dignity they deserve.  Partners include the General Service Foundation, the New World Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Solidago Foundation and the Discount Foundation. The LIFT Fund is the first of its kind to support collaboration and innovation around new forms of worker organizing between worker centers and traditional labor.

This year’s grantees comprise a diverse set of workers and sectors, including domestic workers in Connecticut fighting to strengthen legal protections and day laborers in California working to learn new skills. The primary purpose of all grants is to support work at the local or state level and is focused on helping develop power among vulnerable populations of workers, including immigrants, African Americans, women and rural workers. The money goes exclusively to the worker center but envisions on the ground collaboration with the local labor movement to expand local power.

Montague Simmons, director of Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis, Mo., said:

We recognize that our struggle is inextricably linked to the fight for economic justice. The LIFT grant will support our work to engage and organize those who have been at the forefront of our fight and who also tend to be the most vulnerable to the economic violence waged against our communities.

Grantees are:

  • Organization for Black Struggle, St. Louis (Labor Partner: Painters and Allied Trades District Council 58)
  • CLEAN Carwash, Los Angeles (Labor Partner: United Steelworkers Local 675)
  • Chinese Progressive Association, San Francisco (Labor Partner: UNITE HERE Local 2)
  • Community Voices Heard, New York (Labor Partner: AFSCME District Council 37)
  • Lynn Worker Center for Economic Justice (Labor Partner: North Shore Labor Council)
  • Make the Road/NYCC (Labor Partner: RWSDU)
  • NDLON, Los Angeles (Labor Partner: LA County Federation)
  • NDWA/Brazilian Immigrant Center, Connecticut (Labor Partner: UAW Region 9A)
  • National Guest Workers Alliance, New Orleans (Labor Partner: Ironworkers Union)
  • ROC-United, National (Labor Partners: United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council)
  • Sunflower/Kansas People’s Action, Wichita, Kansas (Labor Partner: Wichita/Hutchinson Labor Federation and CWA)
  • VOZ Workers Center (Labor Partner: Oregon AFL-CIO)
  • Vermont Workers Center (Labor Partner: Vermont State Labor Council)
  • Warehouse Workers Resource Council (Labor Partner: UFCW Western States Council)

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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