Black History Month
One of the first U.S. Worker Centers, BWFJ, located in North Carolina, formed in 1981 out of a struggle led by Black women workers at a K-mart store in Rocky Mount, North Carolina against race and gender discrimination.
North Carolina, a right to work state, has one of the lowest unionization rates in the country. The workers organized a boycott with their allies, and successfully drew attention to workplace issues in a political landscape where they were otherwise overlooked. BWFJ became a statewide organization in 1982, and continues to be a powerful organizing force for racial and economic justice in the South to this day. For more information about the history of the organization, check out Freedom Road, pages 14-16.
LABWC is a dynamic table of workers, organized labor, community-based organizations, clergy, students, and scholars working collectively to improve the position of Black working class. LABWC develops organized power and authentic grassroots leadership among Black workers (unionized, non-union, immigrant, formerly incarcerated and the unemployed) and among the extended community, to reverse the disproportionate levels of unemployment and underemployment in the Los Angeles Black community. Grassroots worker leadership and strategic community-labor alliances are needed to fix the broken opportunity ladder for Black workers in Los Angeles, where only 2 in 5 Black workers has a quality job.
KIWA and LABWC are both member organizations of the LA Worker Center Network steering committee. We support each other in our campaign work, and also work on collective campaigns. This year the LABWC will be heading to Sacramento to pass SB 218, which would enable local offices to enforce discrimination protections for workers (currently these protections are only accessible at the state and federal levels). Additionally, the LABWC is close to passing a Civil and Human Rights Ordinance through the City of Los Angeles that would strengthen and extend civil rights for protected classes. The LABWC does powerful and amazing work that truly benefits us all.
KIWA is proud to honor and stand in solidarity with the Black Workers for Justice and the Los Angeles Black Worker Center for their roles in the U.S. Worker Center Movement.