How Innovative Worker Centers Help America's Most Vulnerable Wage Earners

Janice Fine, Rutgers University

In an era of rising inequality and beleaguered unions, new worker centers are standing up for the interests of low-wage earners. They help America's vulnerable workers, including immigrants, access social services and press for higher wages and better working conditions.

Fine's Key Findings brief summarizes major findings from her study of 137 worker centers, building on her Cornell University Press book Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream. In early 2014, Fine was quoted by the New York Times discussing employer opposition to worker centers in an article on "Advocates for Workers Raise the Ire of Business."

Prior to becoming a faculty member at Rutgers University, Janice Fine spent two decades working as a labor, community, and elections organizer. Her current research focuses on labor unions, immigrant workers, and community organizing strategies. Fine advised former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine on immigration policies and labor law enforcement and helped to establish a Commission on New Americans. She serves on the Executive Board of the Labor and Employment Relations Association and is Co-convener of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.

Along with a more than a dozen other scholars, Fine is a member of the Scholars Strategy Network's Working Group on the Future of the Labor Movement, which assembled a range of briefs for a September 2013 Spotlight on "The Challenging Future of the U.S. Labor Movement." Briefs in the spotlight dissected the causes and consequences of union decline and explored strategies for reinvigorating unions and improving wages, work conditions, and prospects for low-wage workers in the United States.

June 2014