Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream

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Cornell University Press, 2006 - Law - 316 pages
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Low-wage workers in the United States face obstacles including racial and ethnic discrimination, a pervasive lack of wage enforcement, misclassification of their employment, and for some, their status as undocumented immigrants. In the past, political parties, unions, and fraternal and mutual-aid societies served as important vehicles for workers who hoped to achieve political and economic integration. As these traditional civic institutions have weakened, low-wage workers must seek new structures for mutual support. Worker centers are among the institutions to which workers turn as they strive to build vibrant communities and attain economic and political visibility. Community-based worker centers help low-wage workers gain access to social services; advocate for their own civil and human rights; and organize to improve wages, working conditions, neighborhoods, and public schools.In this pathbreaking book, Janice Fine identifies 137 worker centers in more than eighty cities, suburbs, and rural areas in thirty-one states. These centers, which attract workers in industries that are difficult to organize, have emerged as especially useful components of any program intended to assist immigrants and low-wage workers of color. Worker centers serve not only as organizing laboratories but also as places where immigrants and other low-wage workers can participate in civil society, tell their stories to the larger community, resist racism and anti-immigrant sentiment, and work to improve their political and economic standing.
 

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Book Review: "Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream" By Janice Fine Review by James Generic Edited by Yoni Kroll and Chris Mullen Today, unions in the US are in a weak state ... Read full review

Contents

Origins and Characteristics of Worker Centers
7
Putting Worker Centers in Context
27
Organizing at the Intersection of Ethnicity Race and Class
42
Delivering Services on the Front Lines
72
Economic Action Organizing
100
Relationships with Unions
120
Public Policy Enforcement and Reform
157
Immigrant Rights and Social Justice
180
A Holistic Assessment of the Worker Center Phenomenon
244
Organizations Surveyed for National Immigrant Worker Center Study
269
Complete Contact List of Worker Centers as of January 31 2005
271
Notes
283
Bibliography
297
Index
303
About EPI
315
About the Author
317

The Internal Life of Worker Centers
201
Networking Structures and Practices
224

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