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
- 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
- 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
- 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.