What CWC Does
The Chicago Workers Collaborative is the leading organization in the U.S. which raises standards and develops innovative organizing models for building the power of temporary staffing workers.
Temp Worker Union Alliance Project -TWUAP
A collaboration with the Chicago Federation of Labor, DePaul Labor Education Center and CWC, Temp Worker Union Alliance Project helps temp workers to win economic stability and quality union jobs. At Gold Standard Baking, TWUAP partnered with the union to enforcement the contract and move over 100 positions from temp to perm. Workers now receive $2.00 more per hour plus health insurance, sick days, vacations, etc.— valued about $6,000 per employee. The total annual improvement in compensation for these workers at Gold Standard is nearly $900,000 .
Legal Bridge Program
Connects low-income workers to employment, immigration, and expungement attorneys. LEGAL BRIDGE provides a path for low-income people to have high quality legal representation through a network of collaborating attorneys who donate time and resources. Over the last decade this program has assisted over 700 injured workers receive benefits for workplace injuries, enabled 100,000 workers to recover over $30 million in stolen wages. More recently LEGAL BRIDGE raises funds to provide vouchers to immigrants in need of dollars to retain immigration counsel and cover bonds.
Innovative Rights Enforcement
Temp Agency Seal of Approval
In January 2019, CWC worked with partners to launch the Citizens Task Force to Improve Enforcement of Temp Worker Rights. The Task Force brings together workers centers, unions, academics, attorneys, workforce development organizations, and former government regulators to develop and organize the Temporary Staffing Agency Seal of Approval Program. The Seal of Approval’s objectives are to (1) increase compliance with the law and an additional Code of Conduct among temp agencies by providing contracting incentives for temp agencies to seek out the Seal of Approval and giving workers tools to enforce the Seal; (2) build the capacity of the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) to implement this program through community partnerships via the Task Force; (3) decrease public subsidies to “non-Approved” temp agencies to create additional incentives for agencies to seek out the Seal; and (4) educate/influence unions to demand that companies use only Seal-Approved agencies in Collective Bargaining.
No More Deaths Public Health Program
CWC has sought to improve the practices of the underground network of Raiteros (Van Drivers) who recruit and drive Latinx immigrant temp workers to suburban factories in exchange for charges for transportation and cashing the workers’ checks--a system that exploits about 40,000 workers on Chicago’s southwest side. CWC recruited, trained and built a committee of these workers who organized a public campaign which resulted in investigative media reports, enforcement actions by government agencies and changes to state regulations which make it illegal to charge temporary workers for transportation and provide rides in overcrowded and unsafe vans. Because temps have injury rates two times greater than their direct-hire co-workers, No More Deaths advocates for stronger regulations of temp agencies and their clients.
Occupational Health & Safety Promoters
CWC's public health education program trains 100 program participants annually as "Promotores-Promoters" to outreach and train temporary workers who are highly vulnerable to serious workplace accidents due to lack of occupational safety and health training. The Promotors form health and safety committees at their workplaces which include industrial settings, warehouses, and commercial kitchens. Large employers now adopt this Promotor model as part of their human resources "best practices". Each promoter participates in Leadership and OSHA certification training.
Women Workers Rights Promoters
Helps women to lead campaigns for equal pay and for workplaces which are safe from sexual harassment and violence. Fear of reprisals and other factors chill the voices of Latinx immigrant survivors of workforce sexual violence. Promotores reach out and invite women to CWC’s Women Workers Committees where they receive information and support from women peers who have led successful gender equity campaigns at their workplaces.
Theatre of the Oppressed
Workers' Resistance Theatre
The Workers Resistance Theatre comes out the technique known as Theater of the Oppressed, a technique developed in Brazil by Augusto Boal. It is a tool that enables workers to voice their struggle and to mobilize. It is rooted in exercising Critical Thinking. Most CWC promoters and staff participate via local practice groups. The Theatre does performances and workshops in Illinois and around the country.