Immigrant Worker Center
The Immigrant Worker Center is a safe place for immigrants to speak up about workplace abuse and join with a powerful network of workers demanding safe, healthy working conditions. The Worker Center builds the power of immigrants and workers of color to mobilize for safe and healthy work conditions by:
- Providing training to workers to ensure that they know their rights, are able to identify and protect themselves from hazards and can organize for safe and healthy working conditions.
- Encouraging and supporting collective action by workers from the same workplace or industry.
- Linking workers with unions and community groups to support workplace-organizing efforts and to address gaps in government protections for immigrant and low-wage workers.
Resources and information
The Worker Center provides workers with the tools and information they need to protect their health and defend their rights.
- Workers’ Hotline links workers with resources and information to take action.
- Weekly Worker Clinics educate workers about rights and offer support from other workers.
- Worker rights/health and safety workshops held at English programs, churches and community centers introduce workers to their rights and to ways they can defend themselves against abuse.
- A Leadership Institute helps workers develop skills in organizing, understanding legislation and effective use of the media to further their goals.
- Legal resources help worker center members achieve legal justice, using MassCOSH’s network of private lawyers and legal organizations, such as Justice @ Work and Greater Boston Legal Services,
The Worker Center supports workers’ efforts to take action to improve work conditions. It involves workers bringing together their co-workers and going through a step by step process to develop an action plan. With support from community groups, unions, health professionals and attorneys, workers lead their effort to achieve safe, healthy working conditions ,
Worker Center members oversee and guide the Center’s efforts. Members reach out to other workers to involve them in the Center, educate their peers and support their workplace campaigns. A Steering Committee meets quarterly and an executive committee, elected by members, meets monthly to focus on priority workplace campaigns, leadership training planning and policy efforts.
When MassCOSH and workers see abuses over and over again, together we look to identify ways to strengthen existing laws or procedures or establish new ones. Examples of current policy efforts are:
- In August, 2012, the “Temp Worker Right to Know” bill, giving temporary workers critical information and protections, was signed into law, a victory of the MassCOSH-convened REAL Coalition (Reform Employment Agency Law). Now the “REAL” Coalition is actively focused on ensuring that when the law goes into effect, on January 31, 2013, its achieves the strongest impact (click here to see the temp law)
- The Access to Comp Task Force works to remove barriers to immigrant and other low wage workers to obtain urgently needed medical treatment and wage benefits through workers compensation. MassCOSH and other Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative members, Justice at Work and Greater Boston Legal Services meet monthly with the state’s Department of Industrial Accidents in an effort to increase the speed in which difficult injured worker cases are resolved and improve the ability of non-English speakers to navigate the agency.
Uniting workers across ethnicities and neighborhoods
Through the Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative (IWCC), worker centers join together to promote mutual learning and to develop collective campaigns for greater impact. IWCC includes MassCOSH, Brazilian Immigrant Center, Brazilian Women’s Group, CCT, Chelsea Collaborative, Chinese Progressive Association, Fuerza Laboral, Metro West Worker Center, and the Worker Center for Economic Justice. Members from all participating worker centers convened last year and crafted the state’s first Workers’ Bill of Rights, a platform of baseline rights that IWCC members would use individually and collectively to assert workers’ rights to decent working conditions. IWCC strengthens its effectiveness by collaborating with Justice @ Work, Greater Boston Legal Services, Community Labor United, unions and other groups.