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The Problem:

Why do we need CWC?

 

Communities across Illinois are losing good jobs--not overseas, but to companies turning them into bad jobs right here at home.

Corporate employers use temp agency hiring to depress wages, strip away benefits and workers’ rights, evade compliance with employment laws and regulations, and divide the workforce. Through a strategy of replacing direct-hire jobs with temp agency jobs, companies have transformed these once-good workplaces into dangerous and abusive sweatshops, especially for women, who are sexually harassed and assaulted.  Decades of lobbying by the temporary staffing industry have created advantages for temp hiring over direct hiring, and succeeded in passing the costs onto individuals, communities, and taxpayers.

Temps earn about half as much as direct hires that do the same work. Temps are twice as likely as non-temps to live in poverty. Making matters worse, big corporations enable temp agencies to make up their profit margins through systemic wage theft.

Corporate employers use temp agency hiring to depress wages, strip away benefits and workers’ rights, evade compliance with employment laws and regulations, and divide the workforce. Through a strategy of replacing direct-hire jobs with temp agency jobs, companies have transformed these once-good workplaces into dangerous and abusive sweatshops. Decades of lobbying by the temporary staffing industry have created advantages for temp hiring over direct hiring, and succeeded in passing the costs onto individuals, communities, and taxpayers.

 
 
Research and Facts

In 2017, the National Staffing Workers Alliance and the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative released a report - Temporary Work, Permanent Abuse: How Big Business Destroys Good Jobs.

 

 

Based primarily on surveys and focus groups with temp workers employed in factories and warehouses, Temporary Work, Permanent Abuse found the following:

 

Who is CWC?

Mission:
CWC promotes the creation of stable, living wage jobs with racial and gender equity for temporary staffing workers in the Chicago region through leadership development, public policy advocacy, direct action and community accountability.  Low-wage workers participating in the popular education program at Erie Neighborhood House in Chicago established the Collaborative in 2000.
 

Initiatives

Building Community Power to End Gen-Violence

In 2017 we initiated the reconfiguration of our Women’s Rights Program with the goal to strengthen our advocacy practices on issues related to gender violence both in the workplace and at home.  To that end, we promote strategic partnerships across-sectors, especially between workers’ centers and gender violence organizations.

Bringing Down Barriers

Bringing Down Barriers Initiative builds the power of African American temp workers in unity with Latino immigrants with the goal that all workers should have equal access to work regardless of race, gender or immigration status. Since the dominate forces in our society who benefit from injustice maintain their power, privilege and wealth by dividing low income workers along race, gender and immigration status, the lever for achieving our mission is grounded in uniting low-wage Latino immigrant, African-American and women workers.

No More Deaths

Temp workers are worked to death, or at least to injury, in the name of delivering more for less. No More Deaths trains peer educators to assist their fellow temporary staffing workers in identifying workplace safety hazards, thoroughly reporting of workplace injuries and increasing worker’s understanding of their legal rights through formal education and informal consultation. 

Workers Resistance Theater

The Workers Resistance Theater facilitates an understanding of the root causes of workplace injustices, racial inequality and gender violence.  In partnership with the Lookingglass Theater, Jasmin Cardenas, a local performance artist and member of the International Theater of the Oppressed Organization, conducts workshops with CWC’s members using techniques of Theater of the Oppressed. The workers then use the Theater to educate society at large on the abusive dynamics found within the temp worker industry and often invite audience participation to plan and dramatize the specific actions to redress the injustices presented in the performances.

Community Driven Projects

Based on the concept of COMMUNITY ACCOUNTABILITY, this initiative aims to support community projects driven by the people directly impacted by workers’ exploitation, gender violence and racial discrimination. Using the local culture as a foundation, these collective engage in community building practices, mutual learning, radical political healing, leadership development and collective actions.

 

 

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Our Networks

 

Unifying Communities Against Gender Violence Alliance

UCAGEVA was launched in October 2016, as a part of CWC’s strategy to promote and foster partnerships between gender violence and labor rights organizations. UCAGEVA is a space for experimenting and seeding, relationship building, collaboration and practice among sectors. UCAGEVA also seeks to be a platform for the integration of survivors of gender violence and grassroots leaders as equal partners in a broader movement for gender and racial equity.

Temp Worker Justice (TWJ) works to reverse the trend of temping-out America’s workplaces, to help empower temp workers and their organizations so they may obtain the full pay and benefits, safe working conditions, and complete respect that “temp” workers deserve and are entitled to.

Temp Worker Union Alliance Project

In collaboration with the Chicago Federation of Labor and the DePaul Labor Education Center, the Temp Worker Union Alliance Project includes staff and members of ​​the Chicago Workers' Collaborative​, ​ staff and members of various labor unions, as well as researchers and academics from ​ around the country.  The project​​​​ focuses ​on advancing the​​ labor​ rights for workers in the temporary staffing industry​ through organizing, research and training.  TWUAP promotes ​efforts that make the labor movement more aware of the issues facing temp workers and to assist labor in reaching out to temp workers to encourage unity, job security, fairness and safety for all workers.

Raise The Floor Alliance

Eight Chicago-area worker centers, including CWC, launched Raise the Floor (RTF) in 2014. RTF pools research, communications, legislative policy support and legal resources among the worker center members to increase our overall advocacy capacity.

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Campaigns

 

Temp Worker Bill of Rights

Faced with a multitude of abuses and economic insecurity, worker members of the Chicago Workers Collaborative developed a Temp Worker Bill of Rights with the goal of moving workplaces back in the direction of a fully regulated and stable employment arrangement. In 2017, temp workers won passage of The Responsible Jobs Creation Act (HB 690) in the Illinois General Assembly, a major advancement for the Temp Workers Bill of Rights which includes major new protections from discrimination, workplace injuries, transportation from worksites, transition to permanent work, and no charging for background/drug/credit checks. The new law went into effect on June 1, 2018. To learn about your rights as a temp worker under Illinois’ Temp Act, press here. We encourage you to contact us if you would like to organize a know-your-rights workshop about the Temp  Act in your community.

Calladita No Te Ves Mas Bonita

“Calladita No Te Ves Mas Bonita” (Silence Does Not Make You Prettier) 

Women and men seek to engage in a dialogue with  community members about the prevalence and impact of violence against women. Calladita No Te Ves Mas Bonita represents the many moments of harassment and risk that women face at work, at home, and every place in between -- as well as how they can take power back, both individually and collectively. It is presented upon request at different venues.

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