The Workers’ Center of Central New York

A grassroots organization focused upon workplace and economic justice. It is part of a nation-wide network of innovative workers’ centers affiliated with the Chicago-based Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ). It operates in and around the city of Syracuse, a city with one of the highest rates of poverty in the country, driven by deindustrialization and deunionization, the entrenchment of widespread joblessness and the proliferation of low-wage jobs. The Workers’ Center facilitates worker empowerment and leadership development through trainings related to workers’ rights and occupational health and safety, orchestrates campaigns to combat wage theft and to promote employer compliance with the law, and engages in organizing and coalition-building to push for policies that will increase wages and workplace standards and promote human rights.

Past and Present Funders

We are very grateful to our funders, including:

Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, The Abelard Foundation, Berger Marks Foundation, Sparkplug Foundation, RESIST INC, Presbyterian Hunger Program, UCC Neighbors in Need Program, the New York Immigration Coalition, The Hispanic Federation, the Sociological Initiatives Foundation, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Worker Justice Center and the Occupational Health Clinical Center.

Our history

In 2005, the CNY Labor-Religion Coalition was exploring how it might undertake a project that would embody its values in the larger community, especially its concerns for economic justice. Many of us drew inspiration from the work of scholar/activist Janice Fine, author of Workers’ Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream and the practical work of Jose Oliva, the talented Worker Center Coordinator for Interfaith Worker Justice. Both visited Syracuse and met with us, and the LRC decided to make the creation of a Workers Center its major project. In 2006, it opened its doors on a limited basis, staffed by a half-time organizer, with a focus on the issues facing low-wage and immigrant workers.