Justice At Work provides strategic workplace-related legal services to community-based worker centers in order to support and encourage low-wage immigrant worker organizing that enables workers to directly impact conditions at work and in their communities and families.
The workplace is an abusive, dangerous place for low-wage immigrant workers. A 2009 study that surveyed 4,387 low-wage workers found that over two-thirds of these workers suffered a wage violation in the previous week, that the workers’ compensation system did not function on their behalf, and that workers feared retaliation by their employers if they asserted their rights or organized to improve working conditions. Many workers are unaware of their rights, or they worry that they lack the documentation, English skills, education, or money to vindicate their rights.
Faced with this reality, low-wage workers increasingly turn to worker centers. Worker centers are community organizations that educate, organize, and advocate on behalf of workers. These centers, despite normally having no attorneys on their staffs, do their best to resolve workers’ issues through a mixture of negotiations, direct actions against abusive employers, and referrals to government agencies and attorneys. Often, however, employers ignore these organizations. Moreover, government agencies can be slow and unable to achieve satisfying results, and private attorneys cannot afford to represent the workers.
Justice At Work provides legal resources to a network of worker centers while training workers and organizers on their workplace rights and the mechanisms needed to realize them. Justice At Work advises organizers and workers who take collective action, monitors government agencies where workers file cases, communicates with private attorneys whom workers retain, and directly represents workers before agencies and in the courts. Justice At Work also supports worker centers’ efforts to draft and/or achieve enactment of legislation and administrative procedures that benefit workers. Internally, Justice At Work plans to partner with local educational institutions to educate and support interpreters, paralegals, and attorneys from the workers’ own communities.
Justice At Work’s Services and Initiatives: