KIWA is a multiracial worker center with roots in the Korean progressive movement. Since our inception 26 years ago, KIWA has achieved victories in the restaurant and market industries and shaped the culture of work in Koreatown, LA County and statewide. Our mission is to build the power of immigrant workers and residents and to organize a progressive grassroots leadership to transform our workplaces and communities, in Koreatown and beyond.
A cornerstone of KIWA’s work is the Worker Empowerment Clinic (WEC), one of the few legal clinics in LA that provides tri-lingual (English, Spanish and Korean) services to those who have very limited access to such services. We assist workers to recover stolen wages and address other workplace violations.
It was through the WEC that we connected with Maria in her struggle to be treated fairly by her employer. Maria learned about the clinic from a friend and came to KIWA for help.
Maria worked for one couple as a domestic worker for over a decade. Maria cared for the couple’s daughter from her infancy until the daughter reached adolescence.
Like most domestic workers, Maria worked extremely long hours. Her duties included childcare, cooking, cleaning, and pet care. She was even required to sleep in the same bed as the daughter for most of the daughter’s childhood. Maria’s employment ended last year. She felt disrespected by her employers, whom she had considered family, and felt that she had not been paid for all of her time worked. Maria asked KIWA for help to hold her employer accountable.
KIWA is helping her pursue her unpaid wages through the State of California Labor Commission. While working with our clinic staff, Maria has also connected with KIWA members. She has found community and support among worker leaders who know what it is to be exploited and treated unfairly at work. Korean and Latinx member leaders of the Chun Tae Il Justicia workers committee, of which Maria is now a member, are leading a grassroots campaign to:
- Win the campaign and ensure Maria is paid for the work she has done.
- Provide support and solidarity for fellow workers like Maria.
- Raise awareness of abuse and exploitation of low-income immigrant workers in general and for domestic workers in particular.
- Educate themselves and others about the systemic causes of economic injustice and inequality.
- Highlight the benefits of being a KIWA member
- Show the strength of a united, organized membership.
- Share about KIWA and its mission to a wider audience
We know that there are thousands of workers throughout California who face situations just like Maria’s on a daily basis. Our legal clinic and worker committees together provide solidarity, advocacy and leadership development for low-income immigrant workers facing exploitation and mistreatment on the job.
Donate to KIWA so we can continue to stand alongside Maria and others like her and fight for justice.