Making a Difference
CTAC provides capacity building assistance to a wide range of community organizations. Several organizations that are making a significant difference in their communities are highlighted below:
Boston Workers Alliance (Dorchester, MA)
Boston Workers Alliance (BWA) is a member-led community organization dedicated to reversing criminal record discrimination and addressing the joblessness crisis in Boston’s low-income communities of color. Established in 2005 and led by unemployed and underemployed residents, the organization spearheads cooperative development projects and grassroots campaigns to win fair employment practices and good jobs for Boston’s economically marginalized communities.
BWA’s key achievements include:
- Participating as a key player in the landmark passage of the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) reform, making Massachusetts one of only two states to eliminate the CORI question from all initial job application forms.
- Increasing local voter turnout by 7.8% through its non-partisan voter outreach to over 5,000 low-income citizens of color.
- Leading the 3,000-person “Take Back Boston” march in support of economic justice, which attracted extensive media attention to the national Right to the City Alliance.
Brazilian Immigrant Center (Allston, MA)
The Brazilian Immigrant Center (BIC) organizes the Brazilian immigrant worker community for social justice. Founded in 1995, BIC is the oldest and largest community organization dedicated to Brazilian immigrants in the U.S. In Massachusetts, the Brazilian community is a fast growing immigrant population, and BIC addresses the community’s needs for education, organizing, and advocacy.
BIC’s key accomplishments include:
- Helping recover over $1.9 million in stolen wages for the Brazilian immigrant worker community, in collaboration with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division in Boston.
- Organizing a successful statewide legislative campaign to introduce a historic Massachusetts Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which brings domestic workers under the protection of state labor laws.
Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores (New Bedford, MA)
Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores (CCT) is a membership-based organization working with the Central American immigrant community to defend their rights as workers and human beings. The organization seeks to create social change through grassroots organizing, direct action, and education that raises the political consciousness of its members. CCT is dedicated to influencing local, state, and national policies in order to create lasting, positive change for workers and the community.
CCT’s key accomplishments include:
- Being a lead organizer in the statewide Reform Employment Agency Law (REAL) Campaign in Massachusetts that addresses the exploitation of workers in temporary employment agencies.
- Signing a groundbreaking formal agreement with a local temporary employment agency that requires major improvements to employment conditions, including mandating the agency to adhere to labor laws.
- Organizing a large number of workers at a North Coast seafood packing plant to demand basic safety gear, safety training, and a workplace free of racial discrimination. This action resulted in a safer and more dignified work environment.
Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas (Glassboro, NJ)
El Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas (CATA – Farmworker Support Committee) is a migrant farmworker organization that is governed by and comprised of farmworkers who are actively engaged in the struggle for better working and living conditions. CATA’s mission is to empower and educate farmworkers through leadership development and capacity building so that they are able to make informed decisions on the best course of action for their interests. CATA has advanced the farmworkers’ struggle based on the belief that only through organizing and collective action can they achieve justice and fullness of life. CATA’s programs are based on the Popular Education Methodology, which actively involves farmworkers in the process of social change. Analysis and proposed actions come directly from the farmworkers.
CATA’s key accomplishments include:
- Through a law suit filed by CATA, the Pennsylvania Third Circuit decision ordered the U.S. Department of Labor to use present pay levels for setting the prevailing wages to be paid to non-agricultural workers who come to the United States under the H-2B visa program. The potential impact of this decision will be a minimum $4.00 per hour increase not only to guest workers under the H-2B visa program but to low-wage workers at the national level.
- Being a founding member and active participant of the Agricultural Justice Project, a multi-organizational collaborative initiative to create a fair and equitable food system via social justice certification for organic and sustainable agriculture.
- Providing direct support and facilitation to the Kaolin Workers Union, the only mushroom workers union in Pennsylvania, to enhance their capacity to renegotiate their third contract in ten years which will protect the rights of over 600 workers.
Direct Action for Rights and Equality (Providence, RI)
Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) organizes low-income families in communities of color for social, political, and economic justice. DARE uses four interconnected strategies to build power: multi-racial base building, strategic direct action organizing, leadership development for members, and contributing to larger movement building efforts. The organization was founded in 1986 by residents of the Southside of Providence, who joined together to fight for improvements in their community. Through grassroots organizing, DARE addresses the underlying oppressions and root causes of the problems facing its communities.
DARE’s key accomplishments include:
- Winning an extensive 5-year organizing and coalition-building effort, resulting in legislation that eliminates mandatory minimum drug sentencing in Rhode Island.
- Working with a powerful coalition to achieve the passage of the Healthy Pregnancies for Incarcerated Women Act, which protects and unshackles pregnant inmates during labor, postpartum recovery, and medical visits and transportation.
- Successfully advocating for a bill that ends unjust 32(f) probation violations by stipulating that if a person accused of new charges is found innocent, the probation violation can be dismissed after the new charges are dismissed.
Fuerza Laboral (Central Falls, RI)
Fuerza Laboral (FL) is a member-led organization that builds the power of immigrant workers who organize to end labor exploitation. Founded in 2006, the organization educates workers about their rights, develops community leaders, takes direct action against injustices, and works with national coalitions on issues of immigration and workers’ rights to maximize impact.
FL’s key accomplishments include:
- Organizing 280 laid-off non-unionized workers, enabling them to recover unpaid wages. In late 2011, a litigation victory affirmed that the Colibri Jewelry factory had violated the Federal WARN Act in 2008 by closing down without notice. This constitutes a historic victory for non-unionized workers, who are typically not compensated in the case of plant closures.
- Training over 300 workers yearly by holding popular education workshops focused on workers’ rights, community organizing, and direct action. The members trained since 2006 have collectively recovered over $250,000 in unpaid wages—a figure that does not include the $1 million FL has helped workers recover through legal action via the courts.
- Engaging with lawmakers and advocating for state level legislation that will greatly increase penalties for wage theft and develop viable resources for enforcement.
JUNTOS (Philadelphia, PA)
JUNTOS is a non-profit community-based organization comprised of Mexican and other Latino immigrants in South Philadelphia. JUNTOS’ mission is to build power for justice in the City of Philadelphia in order to create vibrant, organized, vocal, and healthy communities. JUNTOS combines leadership development, community organizing, and focused collaborations with other community-based and advocacy organizations to help immigrants develop the necessary tools to advance economically, integrate into the social fabric of the city, become active participants in civic life, and impact policies and institutions that affect their community.
JUNTOS’s key accomplishments include:
- Organizing a community forum to end the collaboration between Philadelphia Police and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) federal agency. Attended by 350 members of the immigrant community, the forum received extensive media coverage and resulted in the City of Philadelphia changing the policy and denying ICE access to the City Police list of victims and witnesses of crimes.
- Initiating a campaign to create quality immigrant-friendly schools in South Philadelphia that includes four action steps: (1) development of a questionnaire and interviewing immigrant parents and school principals about their vision for quality schools and barriers that need to be overcome; (2) visiting two schools (in Philadelphia and Baltimore) which are models for integrating immigrant students; (3) making a list of recommendations for creating immigrant-friendly schools; and (4) planning and implementation of a public forum.
- Training immigrant parents to be advocates for their children in public schools. Twenty-four Latino and Indonesian families were trained over six half-day sessions.
Philadelphia Student Union (Philadelphia, PA)
The Philadelphia Student Union (PSU) is a youth-led organization that builds the power of young people to demand a high quality education in the Philadelphia public school system. Founded in 1995, by a group of students compelled to address educational funding inequities and the lack of student input in decision-making, PSU has grown into a city-wide organization with eight chapters. The majority of its 150 core members are low-income students of color. Through political education, leadership development, and grassroots organizing, the organization cultivates agents of change.
PSU’s key accomplishments include:
- Being a major driving force in the victory of the school funding campaign, granting Pennsylvania schools a historic $275 million increase in basic education funding.
- Building the city-wide Campaign for Nonviolent Schools—a collaborative effort of 12 youth leadership organizations working to improve school climate and safety without pushing students into the criminal justice system.
- Creating a Teacher Equity Platform, aimed at ensuring the hiring and retention of a certified, experienced, and well-supported teaching force.
Restaurant Opportunities Center (New York, NY)
The Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY) is a member-led organization, comprised of 5,000 non-unionized restaurant workers, organizing in New York City for improved working conditions. Initially founded after the World Trade Center tragedy in 2001 to support displaced restaurant workers, the organization now reflects the diversity of the nation’s fastest growing industry. Through a three-pronged organizing strategy—fighting for workplace justice, featuring and fostering “high road” employers, and promoting policy—the organization recovers unpaid wages and files discrimination claims for workers, as well as advocates for important legislative changes such as paid sick days, vacations, and mandated breaks.
ROC-NY’s key accomplishments include:
- Winning nine workplace justice campaigns against exploitative high-profile restaurant companies over the last five years, recovering $4,580,000 for workers and improving workplace policies. The 2012 victories include a $1.2 million settlement agreement with a major restaurant company, resulting in payback of wages and stolen tips for 30 low-wage immigrants, as well as key changes in workplace policies. The win is the result of a 2-year organizing effort.
- Organizing 40 ‘high road’ responsible restaurant owners into the Restaurant Industry Roundtable to serve as a model for ethical business practices in the industry.
- Introducing and advocating for the New York City Earned Paid Sick Days Bill, with the goal of providing all restaurant workers with paid sick days.