Worker Power Project Grantees

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.

EARN Worker Power Project grantees (2021-2023)

The Commonwealth Institute (Virginia) – This project will advance worker power in Virginia through
strengthening collective bargaining rights and union density for public sector workers while lifting up the
importance of unions for advancing equity. This will include working with project partner AFT Virginia
and other public sector unions on passing local option collective bargaining resolutions in jurisdictions
where unions have an existing membership base and/or active organizing campaigns, while laying
groundwork for better state legislation.

Immigration Research Initiative (New York) – This project aims to take advantage of a moment of
opportunity for improvement in the wages and working conditions of delivery service workers in New
York, a nearly entirely immigrant labor force in a rapidly changing economic sector. The Immigration
Research Initiative will work closely with SEIU Local 32BJ and others to develop analysis and craft policy
proposals that can be used to improve conditions for delivery service workers and create opportunities
for workers to organize further.

Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy – LAANE (California) — LAANE’s project, in partnership with
SEIU Local 2015, will focus on research and policy to support organizing among nursing home workers.
Proposed project activities include building a county-wide coalition to research the industry, ensure that
new contracts are fair, create community benefits standards and transparency, and organize
unorganized workers. Policy goals include creation of a new public health grading system for nursing
homes and passage of local living wage ordinances.

Maine Center for Economic Policy – MECEP – In partnership with a newly convened statewide Economic
Justice Coalition (EJC), MECEP will develop model policy and disseminate findings to shape the public
conversation around worker justice with a focus on public-pay, care-economy workers who are
disproportionately women or people of color. With EJC labor partners including the Maine AFL-CIO,
Maine State Employees Association (SEIU), and the Maine Education Association (NEA), MECEP will
explore a range of policy solutions to support worker organizing.

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] 

Worker-Centered Policies for an Equitable Recovery Grants

EARN’s Worker-Centered Policies for an Equitable Recovery (WCPER) fund supports major, multi-year projects that draw directly on EPI and EARN members’ longstanding commitments to economic policies that prioritize the needs of working people. The fund supports work of EARN groups to shape a new worker-centered economy for the future, using the following strategies:

  • Advancing a worker-centered state and local policy agenda rooted in racial and gender equity, including:
    • good jobs with living wages and benefits
    • strong worker protections
    • pro-worker tax, revenue, and budget policies that support families and children
    • strong investments in vital public services and high-quality public sector jobs
    • equitable and effective uses of federal relief and recovery funds
  • Building research capacity and policy partnerships to promote worker-centered, equity-enhancing public investments
  • Developing robust, research-based anti-austerity narratives

We are excited to announce the award of $3 million in grants over the next four years to support projects led by the five EARN groups listed below.

2022 Grant Recipients

Colorado Fiscal Institute 
The Colorado Fiscal Institute (CFI) will use grant support to provide the permanent quantitative research capacity needed to support worker-centered policy priorities of multiple labor and grassroots partners, including the Colorado AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America (CWA) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), organizations supporting immigrant and low-wage working people such as 9to5 Colorado, Colorado People’s Alliance (COPA), and coalitions such as the Future of Workers (FOW) and the Emergency Economic Relief Action (EERA). Partners will advance a broad policy platform that includes better wages (including use of federal relief funds for Hero Pay), workers’ compensation, health insurance, fair scheduling for gig and nontraditional workers, equity and administrative improvements to the unemployment system (including permanency of the new Benefit Recovery Fund, which provides undocumented workers with UI benefits), defense against corporate threats to expand misclassification of workers, stronger wage theft enforcement, and preservation of whistleblower protections. Building on the recent success of the state EITC coalition, partners will look to restructure state tax rebates to drive more dollars to working families, coordinating with Bell Policy Center to build anti-austerity messages and challenge the limitations of Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) places on the state’s ability to raise revenue through progressive taxation. Work with partners will include developing communications strategies that uplift the dignity of all work and ensure consistent use of the race/class narrative developed by Rise Up Colorado Partners.

DC Fiscal Policy Institute
The DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) will use the multi-year funding to advance reparative cannabis legislation, develop a proposal for a guaranteed jobs programs for young adult workers, pursue fair compensation for early learning professionals, secure financial support for workers who are undocumented or in the cash economy, extend DC’s Earned Income Tax Credit to workers who are undocumented, develop research around a wealth tax to fund investments in communities living with the effects of anti-Black policymaking and divestment, collect data and conduct a new analysis estimating the cost of ending chronic homelessness for individuals, and advance ideas for creating a fully equitable tax code that is racially just in its design (including, but not limited to, exploring a local Child Tax Credit targeted to families with low and moderate incomes). To help support this robust agenda, DCFPI will use EARN funding to hire new staff and provide subgrants to organizational partners that have long-held relationships within impacted communities.

Policy Matters Ohio
Policy Matters is building A New Way Forward in Ohio—a research and outreach project to bring together a broad base of partners engaged in worker-centered economic equity campaigns around the state. They will pull disparate goals into a shared framework to leverage the work into a bigger, more effective, multi-racial workers’ movement. “A New Way” will leverage coalition power to win local and state victories for all working people—Black, Brown, and white. They will bring core stakeholders into the coalition to accomplish local policy change—including municipal wage theft ordinances and enhanced enforcement, expanded use of project labor agreements and community benefits agreements on public projects, and paid family and sick leave for Cleveland municipal workers.  The coalition aims to advance key state policy priorities such as protecting unemployment compensation from benefit cuts and expanding access, seeking refundable tax credits for workers and families, advocating for EITC refundability and the federal CTC, and using the state budget process to make childcare affordable for families while paying childcare workers a living wage. A New Way forward aims to build power over time to win policies that are currently out of reach, such as raising the Ohio minimum wage to a level that meets the cost of living and honors the value of work.

Oregon Center for Public Policy
The Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) will use funds to advance a transformative worker-centered agenda in Oregon. OCPP engaged community and labor groups in shaping this bold, pro-worker agenda rooted in racial and gender equity. The resulting agenda seeks to change the balance of power by creating worker-centric policy structures that fall into two broad categories: 1) policies that directly empower workers in the workplace; and, 2) policies that shore up family budgets, enabling a measure of independence within the labor market and enhancing the bargaining power and economic security of workers. Their policy priorities target the lowest-paid sectors, ensuring that success in this endeavor furthers the goal of advancing racial and gender justice in Oregon. Objectives include catalyzing and supporting campaigns to extend to farmworkers a state right to organize, establish a community co-enforcement of labor laws, pursue sectoral bargaining for disempowered workers in targeted sectors, establish a universal, affordable, quality child care system in Oregon that pays child care workers a living wage, create a Guaranteed Income (GI) program, transform an existing, regressive tax rebate (“kicker”) into an equitable tax rebate, advocate for equitable use of current and future federal funds, and ensure equitable access to existing and future low-wage tax credits, such as the EITC and CTC.

Kids Forward – Wisconsin
Funds will support a partnership between Kids Forward, COWS (Center on Wisconsin Strategy), Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality (MASH) Workers, and Voces de la Frontera to develop a community-reflective, anti-austerity agenda that reflects the needs of communities of color and low-income workers. Alongside this broad vision, the project will provide concrete policy ideas to expand worker rights, support immigrant workers, improve service jobs, and achieve an equitable, sustainable tax system, by centering the voices of immigrant and BIPOC workers to the policy discourse within Wisconsin. State policy goals include achieving driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and low-wage workers facing license revocation due to fines and fees, and expanding Wisconsin’s EITC to include adults without dependent children. Local policy priorities include achieving community benefits agreements, developing sectoral structures for worker-driven negotiations over safety and other labor standards, and supporting organizing among service workers. Partners will also focus on increasing awareness of preemption: How it can be resisted as a likely roadblock to local implementation of an essential workers’ rights policy agenda. The partnership is realistic about political constraints and also ambitious about what this project can achieve, both in terms of concrete policy gains and changing the discourse in Wisconsin around racial and economic justice.

To learn more about the EARN Worker-Centered Priorities for an Equitable Recovery Fund, please send an email to [email protected].