Organizing Workers to Bring Down Barriers

October 4, 2013

Producer Karla Murthy revisits America’s new temp economy, an issue she first reported on for Moyers & Company last month. The Chicago Workers Collaborative, a nonprofit advocacy group, has been organizing low-wage temp workers in the city for 13 years. The CWC made a name for itself by helping mainly Latino immigrant workers. But over the years, the CWC’s mission has changed.

Unemployed African-Americans in the city have been looking for temporary work in greater numbers and CWC Executive Director Leone Bicchieri noticed that Latinos — who were often getting more of the work — were drawing resentment from African-Americans who felt shut-out. In an effort to address the problems faced by all workers, the CWC began a program called Bringing Down Barriers. As Bicchieri told Moyers & Company, “temp labor seems to have perfected keeping Latinos and African-Americans hating each other instead of working together for the common good.”

The CWC organizes African-American and Latino temp laborers to fight racial discrimination. They are working to unite the two communities together to improve wages and working conditions for everyone.

Producer Karla Murthy
Camera/Associate Producer Alexandra Nikolchev

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  • DavidW

    There is a possibility of greater change if the Chicago Workers Collaborative could organize (concurrently with a union) a worker owned cooperative enterprise. Imagine a competitor to these temp agencies that the CWC could compete against with their worker owners. I want to suggest they get in touch with the US Federation of Worker Co-operatives and figure it out.

    We need to “push” ownership culture down to the rest of us and take market share away from the corporate bad actors.

  • Anonymous

    Infrastructure investment – if we are going to borrow money do it for a useful reason. Borrowing to subsidize multimillionaire farmers revenue stop loss insurance when they export most of it anyway not a priority.