OUR HISTORY OF GRASSROOTS ORGANIZING
The New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (Workers’ Center) was founded as a workers’ rights and racial justice response to the man-made disaster called Hurricane Katrina. Against the backdrop of a political economy that pitted communities of color against each other, a group of black and immigrant workers came together from public housing developments, FEMA trailer parks, day labor corners, and labor camps across Louisiana to build a new freedom movement: multi-racial; committed to racial, gender, and immigrant justice; and dedicated to building power at the intersection of race and the economy. Over a decade later, the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice continues to be a vehicle for black and immigrant workers to come build grassroots campaigns with a local and national impact.
Part of building continuous and sustainable worker power is ensuring to recognize and lift up the work of those who paved the way for us to continue the fight. as one, unified base. This is the history of NOWCRJ’s power-building and founding.
Originally NOWCRJ housed three programs, with three separate bases: Stand with Dignity, Congress of Day Laborers, and the National Guestworkers Alliance (which later transitioned to the Seafood Workers Alliance). These factions were member-led, peer-to-peer groups or spurned from the organizing work of our members and team. They were spaces where members with shared interests came to support one another, develop cultural initiatives and events for local communities, and also to support communities in addressing pertinent issues.
Congress of Day Laborers
The Congress of Day Laborers is a group of Immigrant workers and families founded by the day laborers who helped rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. A hub for immigrants across the Southeast region and a leadership pipeline for hundreds of immigrant workers and families into public life and social movement participation.
Stand with Dignity
Stand with Dignity became a group of Black workers and families dedicated to winning inclusion, opportunity, and racial equity in the New Orleans economy. Stand supports work to win full and fair employment for Black workers locked into structural and long-term employment and low-wage jobs.
Seafood Workers Alliance / ALIANZA DE TRABAJADORXS DE MARISCO Y PESCADO.
The Seafood Workers Alliance (formerly The National Guestworkers Alliance) comprises seafood processing workers organized to improve conditions in their industry and communities. SWA members are guest workers, Immigrant workers, and local workers united in rural areas across the region to address forced labor, community, and workplace health and safety issues, wage disparities, and more.
In addition to influencing the above NOWCRJ-affiliated groups, NOWCRJ led the charge in Research and Policy work. NOWCRJ’s Research and Policy Department was an impact-strategy powerhouse serving campaigns and initiatives anchored by the Workers’ Center. The department’s impact litigation, policy, and advocacy work have undergirded our organizing strategies since its launch. To this day, we continue to focus on data and research to collectively create strategies that will advance a civil, labor, and human rights agenda.