Worker Power Project

EARN’s Worker Power Project focuses on expanding the ability of working people to achieve racial, gender, and economic justice through organizing, collective bargaining, and state and local policy change. Confronting entrenched power imbalances and decades of active suppression of workers’ rights, the Worker Power Project works with EARN groups and partners to ensure all workers—including those long excluded from state or federal legal protections—can freely exercise the right to join together in a union and gain a voice on the job.  

Key project strategies include: 

  • Winning state and local policy changes that build worker power and advance racial and gender justice: Identifying and advancing state or local policies that expand rights of workers—including those historically excluded from state or federal legal protections—to freely exercise the right to join together in a union, gain a voice on the job, and collectively bargain with employers;  
  • Building worker power research capacity and policy partnerships: Expanding capacity of EARN groups to co-lead research and advocacy on state and local worker power policies, while developing or deepening on-the-ground partnerships among EARN groups, labor unions, and worker centers.
  • Developing robust, research-based worker justice narratives: Generating and widely disseminating research reports, case studies, and other published products that tell coherent state, regional, and national stories about worker power and its importance, explain and assess the impact of state and local worker power policies, and shape public discourse on the economic and equity impacts of unions and the importance of expanding workers’ rights to form or join unions 

The project provides active support to EARN groups engaged in building worker power at the state or local level by facilitating partnerships, sharing resources and technical assistance, and developing strategic partnerships among EARN groups, labor unions, and grassroots organizations.  

Publications

Publication

Data for the People

All Oregonians deserve to live in dignity — to enjoy economic security and the possibility to thrive. This is doable. Oregon, after all, is a prosperous place, with enough resources for everyone to live well.

But for a vast number of Oregonians today, economic security feels like an impossible dream. At a time when the income of the richest Oregonians has reached record highs, many low-paid Oregonians can’t afford basic necessities such as food, housing, and health care. Economic insecurity afflicts Oregonians of all races. As a result of an economy designed to benefit the white and wealthy, it is especially pronounced among Black, Indigenous and other Oregonians of color.

Data for the People provides the latest publicly-available data on the economic well-being of Oregonians. To better reflect the realities of particular communities, wherever possible we break down data by race and ethnicity using Race, Ethnicity, Language, and Disability (REAL-D) categories developed by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). For more information about this process, as well as data sources used throughout, see our detailed methodology.

The data make clear the need for Oregon to create an economy that is more equitable in its prosperity. OCPP’s Action Plan for the People lays out a policy roadmap to shift the economic system to benefit all Oregonians, not just the wealthy few. We invite you to explore this data set.

PublicationResources

Using Local and Economically-Targeted Hire to Promote Good Jobs through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

  • October 7, 2022
  • Michael Lawliss, Lew Finfer, and Jennifer Sherer

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), was signed into law on November 15, 2021. This federal legislation will bring $1.2 trillion to states and cities over the next 5 years to repair and build roads and bridges, public transportation, the broadband network, and water infrastructure, among many other critical infrastructure projects. Each state will receive billions of dollars in funding over the next 5 years through mandatory and competitive grants, loans, and bonds.

Local and targeted hiring refers to policies attached to major economic development and construction projects that seek to ensure that a certain percentage of the jobs on the contract be set aside for local residents or for job seekers that share a particular set of demographic characteristics, such as being from communities historically underrepresented in an industry or experiencing barriers to employment. A range of community and labor advocates worked together with federal policymakers to include a provision in the BIL that allows policymakers to enact preferences for local and economically-targeted hiring on highway and transit construction projects receiving financial support from the US Department of Transportation (USDOT). This is the first time local and economically-targeted hire on federally-funded projects is allowed after years of community advocacy.

This guide provides an overview of local and targeted hiring policies, answers key questions for states and cities looking to implement these policies, and offers success stories from around the country. The BIL represents an important organizing opportunity for community groups and unions to meet with state officials on incorporating local and economically-targeted hiring provisions in the highway and transit construction contracts that local agencies will be issuing over each of the next 5 years. Our hope is that this guide will be helpful not just for BIL implementation, but for other local initiatives and future legislation as well.

Network ExclusiveResources

Building local solidarity with organizing workers: April EARN Worker Power Bulletin

EARN Worker Power Project Bulletin

State and local policy updates and resources for advancing racial, gender, and economic justice

We know EARN groups around the country are already contributing ideas, research, analysis, strong testimony, coalition building, and more to act in solidarity with workers who are organizing to build power in a wide array of state and local contexts.

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Publication

Coming Together for Loudoun County: Collective Bargaining Strengthens Communities and Families

Loudoun County is a growing, increasingly diverse community that is a place of aspirations and contrasts: one of the highest-income counties in the United States, and a place where many who do the essential work of our communities can’t afford to live. Loudoun has top-notch public services, and Loudoun’s public employees play a significant role in creating and maintaining those services, and it’s important that we make sure that those public servants are fairly paid and have a voice in their workplace. Allowing collective bargaining will provide county employees a formal voice to lift up ways to improve public services and build a more equitable workplace. In the end, that benefits every one of us.