Report Launch — New Southern Strategies: Employment, Workers’ Rights and the Prospects for Regional Resurgence
9 - 10:30 am PT / 10 - 11:30 am MT / 11 - 12:30 pm CT / 12 - 1:30 pm ET
Sponsored by NFG’s Funders for a Just Economy, Grantmakers for Southern Progress, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, and the Institute for Southern Studies. Report funded by the Ford Foundation.
- Nikolas Theodore, Report Author, University of Illinois, Chicago
- Chris Kromm – Institute for Southern Studies
- LaTosha Brown – Grantmakers for Southern Progress
- Ryan Schlegel – National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
- Derrick Johnson, NAACP (invited)
What will it take to win successful economic justice campaigns in the South? With many families facing chronically low wages and economic insecurity, an understanding and attention to the political economy of the South can help funders and field organizations develop successful intervention strategies.
On this webinar, hear from the report’s author Nikolas Theodore (University of IL, Chicago) who will share highlights from the report and his previous work to illuminate opportunities to advance and build worker power. Additional speakers will share their analyses of the political economy of the South, how the history of systemic racism has maintained corporate power and limited the ability to build strong and successful efforts by community groups and labor to improve workers’ rights, and how the recent unionization efforts in Tennessee and Mississippi impact the outlook for future efforts across the country.
Save the Date! FJE Learning Tour in Alabama - November 6-8, 2017
Upcoming Groundbreaking Reports on Workplace Law Centers and Southern Strategies
The FJE will lead a project to commission a paper on workplace law centers. In the tradition of the landmark 2006 report written by Janice Fine, on Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream, this project will provide a survey the existing landscape and significance of community legal groups dedicated to labor issues. The Ford Foundation has also sponsored an upcoming report by Nik Theodore on worker organizing in the south to be released later this year. This work explore economic/workforce challenges prevalent in the south, how it functions as a testing ground for both structural exploitation, and an exciting center of innovative organizing strategies that use a broader, civil rights frame in partnership with labor. FJE and Grantmakers for Southern Progress will collaborate to promote this report through its networks.
For many years, FJE has held a yearly policy briefing to engage its members on specific policy issues that affect middle and low-income workers. In a fundamentally shifting political and power map, this year’s policy briefing, held on May 18th and 19th updated members with our current understanding of the major forces and players that impact worker justice. FJE members engaged in strategic conversations about the decline of organized labor, economic discrimination based on migration status and gender, the future of work, emerging state and local policy and advocacy campaigns, and how to leverage and build power through movement building, cross-issue collaborations, litigation strategies, and community organizing. Read the event recap, and access the agenda and speaker bios here.
The Discount Foundation Legacy Award celebrates the remarkable contributions to the movement by a worker justice hero. Awardees receive a $20,000 stipend to provide them flexibility to expand on their professional activities and achievements in the absence of reporting requirements or other specific obligations. The 2017 Award winner is Luna Ranjit, co-founder of Adhikaar and the New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition.
Luna Ranjit's work is rooted in the community. For more than a decade, Luna guided Adhikaar's programs, research, policy advocacy, and partnerships, building visibility and power for the emerging Nepali-speaking immigrant community. As a co-founder of the New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition, she helped lead the way for the sweeping changes to improve working conditions in the nail salon industry. She also served on the advisory board of the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salons Alliance. Luna has been quoted and featured in print and broadcast media on the issues related to workers’ rights, immigrant rights, language justice, and civic engagement. Her groundbreaking work has been recognized by many community organizations and elected officials. In 2016, she received the Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize created to support and inspire innovative social change makers throughout the world.
Regulatory Enforcement & Corporate Misconduct
In 2016, the Bauman Foundation and Bob Shull of Public Welfare Foundation hosted a funder briefing on new developments in enforcement and corporate accountability. Participants tested out the new Violation Tracker database (try it for yourself – very insightful!), a powerful tool created by Good Jobs First that pulls together enforcement data from the Department of Labor, EPA, and other government agencies to allow real insight into companies that break the law. Good Jobs First is continuing to track labor law violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act and NLRB back pay awards through their database.
Black Worker Organizing Project
On May 1, 2015, Columbia University hosted the second annual State of Black Workers in America Conference in New York City. Here, two groundbreaking reports were launched: And Still I Rise: Black Women Labor Leaders’ Voices, Power and Promise, a photo-journalistic report written by Kimberly Freeman Brown designed to engage black women labor leaders and activists in exploring ways to leverage their organizing expertise for the preservation of the labor movement and the economic advancement of the black community; and #BlackWorkersMatter, a cutting edge report on the state of black worker organizing around the country, highlighting efforts to organize black workers and address the particular barriers to employment and economic security faced by people of African descent in the U.S. The WGLCP members supported the creation of these reports, and will continue to support the promotion of the reports and organizing work featured in them through a series of regional meeting across the country for funders (stayed tuned for details). This past Monday, the WGLCP hosted a webinar, Black Workers Rising: A Conversation with the Neighborhood Funders Group, in which NFG members heard directly from the report authors, Kimberly Freeman Brown and Sean Thomas-Breitfeld, and Marc Bayard, head of the Black Worker Initiative at the Institute of Policy Studies. If you missed it, click here to see a recording.