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].