Southern Worker Power Project

EARN Southern Worker Power Fund 

The Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) is excited to announce grant awards of $300,000 over three years to five EARN organizations based in the South. These grant awards will build capacity for state EARN members to partner with labor unions, labor federations, and worker centers to accomplish the following: 

  • Advance state and local policy changes that build worker power and advance racial and gender equity. Organizations will identify and advance state or local policies that expand rights of workers—including Black and Brown workers who have historically been excluded from state or federal legal protections—to freely exercise the right to form a union, gain a voice on the job, and collectively bargain with employers.  
  • Build worker power research capacity and policy partnerships. The projects will help expand the capacity of EARN groups to co-lead research and advocate on state and local worker power policies and develop or deepen on-the-ground partnerships with labor unions and worker centers in the South.
  • Develop robust, research-based worker justice narratives.  The grant recipients will generate and widely disseminate research reports, case studies, and other published products that tell compelling stories about worker power and its importance. These products will explain and assess the impact of worker power policies, shape public discourse on the economic and equity impacts of unions and emphasize the importance of expanding workers’ rights to form or join unions in Southern states. 

2022 Grant Recipients

Grant award recipients include Alabama Arise, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Florida Policy Institute, North Carolina Justice Center, and Every Texan.  Learn more about the research, campaigns, and partnerships supported by the EARN Southern Worker Power Fund:

Alabama Arise will work with the United Auto Workers and other labor partners to drive research and legislative advocacy in support of organizing among manufacturing workers seeking a voice on the job and policies that increase equitable access to good jobs for Black and Brown workers. This project will include working with allies across the state to advocate for increased transparency and accountability from manufacturers subsidized by taxpayer dollars and work with the Alabama Coalition for Community Benefits, convened by Jobs to Move America, to win a national community benefits agreement with bus maker New Flyer. Alabama Arise is a statewide, member-led organization advancing public policies to improve the lives of Alabamians. Follow their work on Twitter @AlabamaArise. 

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) will work with the Arkansas Education Association (AEA) and other labor partners to promote pro-worker policies and support a long-term campaign to reestablish state collective bargaining rights of public sector employees. AACF recognizes that well-compensated, experienced, and qualified teachers are essential to the quality of the state’s public education system and the education received by all students, especially low-income students and students of color. Collective bargaining rights are also essential to improving equity and well-being for women and workers of color in the state’s education system. The project will increase awareness about the impact of a new state law banning collective bargaining for public sector employees, improve the monitoring and implementation of the state law to minimize its negative impacts, and build support for restoring collective bargaining rights over time.  Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families  advocates for policies that support workers and their families by publishing policy research, engaging and mobilizing community and ally voices, conducting strategic communications, and organizing diverse coalitions.  Follow their work on Twitter @AACF.

Florida Policy Institute (FPI) will leverage its grant award to build on past contributions to worker justice victories, including research laying the foundation for the state minimum wage increase passed by voters in 2020. Working with SEIU Florida Public Services Union and other labor and grassroots partners, this project will develop and promote a shared vision for progressive statewide policies that advance worker, racial, and gender justice. Initial activities being considered by state partners include supporting efforts to reestablish a state Department of Labor to enforce broad worker protections, advancing a Florida Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights to improve pay and working conditions for immigrant, Black, and Brown women workers, and conducting local-level policy analysis to identify opportunities to expand pro-worker policies such as wage theft ordinances or local collective bargaining agreements. FPI publishes credible research, develops policy recommendations, provides strategic communications, and engages in partnership and coalition building while advocating for public policies that reduce barriers to economic opportunity. Follow their work on Twitter @FloridaPolicy

North Carolina Justice Center will support North Carolina’s organized labor movement in campaigns to expand collective bargaining rights for public employees, especially for Black and Brown workers who make up more than a third of the state government workforce alone. This grant award will allow NC Justice Center to increase its capacity to support the re-establishment of the NC Hear Our Public Employees (HOPE) Coalition, collaborating with the North Carolina Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO), UE Local 150, and other key labor partners on public messaging, research, advocacy, and legal efforts to advance collective bargaining rights in the state. The NC Justice Center’s Workers’ Rights Project utilizes litigation to ensure workers’ rights are enforced, protected, and expanded, engages in research and coalition-building, provides training and technical assistance, and supports labor partners’ campaigns to develop worker organizing and leadership. Follow their work on Twitter @ncworkers.

Every Texan will work with the Texas AFL-CIO and other labor partners to develop a policy playbook to support worker empowerment and increase public support for strong labor policies in Texas. Texas allies will advocate at the local level for stronger worker protections for public employees, limiting employers’ ability to misclassify workers as independent contractors, and strengthening enforcement of wage theft. Every Texan recognizes the enormous value of ensuring employees’ voices are heard, the strong impact unions have on securing equitable outcomes for people of color and women, and the challenges of unionizing in a right-to-work state. For decades, Every Texan has engaged in research, analysis, and advocacy to advance equitable policies that enable Texans of all backgrounds to thrive. Follow their work on Twitter @EveryTxn 

To learn more about the Southern Worker Power Fund, the Worker Power Project, and EARN in the South contact [email protected].