What is a worker center?

What do you do when you’re a labor boss at a time when union membership is at its lowest point in over 50 years? Anything you can to save a sinking ship, apparently. That includes forming new union front groups called “worker centers” to pull in additional funding for unionization efforts. By forming under the guise of charitable organizations, worker centers are able to seek funding from a wider array of sources than traditional unions. Collective bargaining units primarily rely on members’ dues to fund their organizing activity. However, as more workers decide to opt out of unions and more business-friendly states embrace right-to-work status, labor’s power continues to dwindle. Worker centers, therefore, give union bosses the opportunity to draw in additional funding from a variety of foundations, as well as from state and federal government sources. These union front groups, importantly, are not bound by any of the laws that govern the behavior of unions.

“What is a Worker Center?”:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Workforce Freedom Initiative just released a report, “The Emerging Role of Worker Centers in Union Organization,” detailing the role of worker centers in union fundraising. These worker centers are playing an increasingly larger role in backing labor causes as traditional unionization efforts continue to underperform. Here are the key takeaways from the Chamber’s assessment:

The Emerging Role of Worker Centers
In Union Organizing:
Fact Sheet

A report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Freedom Initiative (WFI) examines some of the actors, strategies and tactics behind the growing movement of union front groups called worker centers in the United States.

  • With union membership is at its lowest point in over 50 years, labor leaders have struggled to reverse a downward trend, and worker centers are part of the solution.
  • In fact, the AFL-CIO made it an express policy to promote the worker center model of organizing at its 2013 quadrennial convention.
  • Worker centers often engage in highly disruptive campaigns against employers, typically targeting a specific industry such as restaurants or retail establishments.
  • Although they act like unions in some respects, including demanding higher wages and richer benefits, worker centers typically organize as 501(c)(3)s under the Internal Revenue Code.
  • By forming as charitable organizations, worker centers open the possibility of seeking funding from a variety of foundations as well as from state and federal government sources.
  • A review of foundation grants from 2009-2012 reveals that selected foundations contributed over $57,000,000 to several worker centers discussed in the report.
  • Several large foundations fund these worker centers, including the Ford, General Service, Hill-Snowdon, Kellogg, Kresge, Nathan Cummings, Rockefeller and Tides foundations.
  • Records demonstrate six and seven-figure donations to groups such as the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), the Food Chain Workers Alliance, the Miami Workers Center, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), etc.
  • Foundation giving in 2012 topped $50 billion, and significant sums were devoted to economic, political, and social activism, which can often include labor activism and support for “community groups” that represent a complex activist network.

Worker centers bolster the efforts of traditional labor unions, which rely mostly on members’ dues to fund various organizing activity. The worker center movement poses a significant shift in Labor’s approach to recruiting a new, diverse membership, and the network continues to expand. What the results of their efforts will be remains to be seen.

Are you prepared for pro-union boss worker center disruptions in your community? Here are 5 things you should know:

1. If you are harassed, CALL your local authorities to report the incident.
2. Know that these are PAID union protestors, dedicated to disrupting your community.
3. Take pictures/video and SHARE with us exactly how they are ruining the holiday spirit.
4. TWEET and FACEBOOK your pictures using the hashtag #BlackFridayProtests
5. If you’re shopping, THANK the employees sacrificing time with their family in order to serve you.


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AZ Daily Sun--Coconino Voices: PRO Act legislation would hurt local businesses

— 05.13.2021 —
By: Julie Pastrik Arizona businesses and workers have had an incredibly challenging year given the economic slowdown that followed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. However, local businesses and industries across the state are resilient and on the road to a strong recovery that will mean more jobs for Arizona workers and increased economic development to strengthen our communities. That is, as long as Congress does not move forward with potentially devastating legislation that would hurt local employers and employees alike while impeding our state’s economic recovery. Unfortunately, some members of Congress seem determined to do just that by pushing through the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. As harmless as the name may sound, the PRO Act would have serious repercussions for local businesses, particularly smaller ones, while undermining long-standing rights for employees and threatening the growing gig economy that has helped provide much-needed income for so many during this time. Arizona is fortunate to have leaders like Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, who have both refrained from joining the vast majority of their Democratic colleagues in cosponsoring the PRO Act. In a slap in the face to Arizona workers, the PRO Act removes one of the most fundamental rights a worker has when it comes to voting in elections to determine whether to unionize: the secret ballot. Instead, workers could be forced to sign union authorization cards in front of other employees, their employer, or union organizers. This bill would also destroy workers’ right to privacy by allowing unions access to personal information, including their home address and personal phone number. If that doesn’t open the door to union intimidation and harassment, I don’t know what does. As if that was not bad enough, the PRO Act would create major new challenges for Arizona businesses, making it harder for them to create jobs, expand in their communities, and even keep their doors open. It would redefine what it means to be a “joint employer” under national labor law, greatly complicating existing relationships between franchisors and franchisees as well as between business owners, contractors, subcontractors, and vendors and suppliers. At the same time, it would interfere with attorney-client confidentiality and make it much more difficult for small businesses to secure a legal advice on labor issues. Particularly harmful during these times, the PRO Act would apply a failed policy from California to national labor law by using the “ABC” test to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee. This makes it much harder to qualify as an independent contractor, threatening the freedom and flexibility that tens of thousands of Arizonans find in independent contracting and gig economy work. Ultimately, the PRO Act is bad public policy that only works for union leaders to inflate their falling ranks while threatening workers’ rights, undermining small businesses, and jeopardizing a growing part of our economy. This is not a good solution for Arizona, and Senators Sinema and Kelly should stay firm and not cosponsor this misguided legislation.
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