The Workers Lab Goes to the White House and Beyond


The Workers Lab Goes to the White House and Beyond

The White House and Beyond
The Workers Lab went to the White House!  We were joined by leaders from multiple sectors, including those from Service Employees International Union, high road employers like Shinola and Market Basket, and grassroots worker organizers such as L.A.’s Black Worker Center and Minneapolis’ Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha.  As part of the White House’s first-ever Summit on Worker Voice, we were charged with exploring ways to lift up the voices of working people in the 21st century economy.  We were also joined by two of our Lab Partners, Coworker.org and Workers Defense Project, and one of our organizational partners, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, whose models are demonstrating how to get to scale and transform industries.

Throughout the day, the President, Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and Labor Secretary Tom Perez explored the issues workers face in the new economy — from low pay to schedule insecurity — and the role that lawmakers, employers, unions and new organizing models can play in helping workers unite their voice for change.Our CEO Carmen Rojas and Workers Defense Project CEO Cristina Tzintzun shared their work on a panel focused on “Exploring Promising New Models of Worker Voice.” At the end of the day, Michelle Miller from Coworker.org moderated a town hall conversation with President Barack Obama.  You can check-out the full conversation by clicking on the video below:

Michelle and President Video

The Future of Work

We also participated in the Institute for the Future’s Positive Platforms for a Workable Future convening, which asked us to reimagine how digital platforms that connect people to work, actually work for us all.  David Rolf, our Board Chair, was the keynote speaker and shared something that we all feel: the on-demand economy is both exciting and frightening, as it coincides with America becoming a low-wage nation. He noted that the old labor movement created power for workers on a large scale and had a sustainable revenue source, and stressed that the next worker movement has to have a relentless commitment to innovation, risk, failure, and learning, and its north star has to be building power, scale, and sustainability for workers. This is why The Workers Lab exists.

The Future of Demographics
We also shared our work at the Voto Latino Power Summit 2015. It’s only fitting that we followed a discussion on the future of work with a discussion about Latinos. By 2044, people of color will be the majority in the United States, with Latinos representing the majority of this population growth.  Chief of Staff Richard Raya participated in a panel on advocacy, highlighting Coworker.org’s success with the Starbucks campaign to end “clopenings”, including the fact that more than 20% of the Starbucks global workforce has signed-on to the Coworker.org online organizing platform, and that the New York Times has covered the campaign extensively as a result of its momentum. Follow the highlights of this conversation at #VLpowersummit.

TWL Enterprise Institute & PolicyLink Equity Summit
As we wrap up the month, we are excited to host a Fall Enterprise Institute in Los Angeles prior to PolicyLink’s Equity Summit. At the Institute, we will work with seven organizations to test their value propositions and develop their business model canvass’ for ventures that are focused on building worker power at scale and sustainably.  After our Institute, we will participate in the Equity Summit with thousands of dynamic leaders, advocates, and stakeholders who will take on some of the most pressing issues of our time.  The Workers Lab is honored to be part of this conversation.  It will be an exciting time! Follow us and share your thoughts online at #Equity2015.

What’s Working for Workers
We’ve launched a guest blog series where leaders of organizations, campaigns, enterprises, and platforms will share insights into their efforts.  Check them out!

  • As minimum wage campaigns sweep cities across the country, the ability to enforce these policies is key to realizing their benefits.  Nicole Vallestero Keenan shares the victory of Seattle’s Fair Work Center in enforcing the victories of the Fight for $15.
  • How do you get employers to play a role in addressing the issues working people are facing today? Veronica Mendez reflects on a recent White House Visit and howCentro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha moved one of the nation’s largest retailers to improve conditions for workers.
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