Community-Labor Partnerships

A recent success for carwash workers demonstrates the power of community-labor partnerships –

After years of organizing, Los Angeles carwash workers successfully negotiated contracts with three carwashes and gained workplace rights most workers should be able to take for granted: sick leave, access to healthcare, workplace safety, lunch breaks, living wages and respect. The carwash workers were successful, in large part, through the strength of community-labor partnerships: the United Steelworkers teamed up with the Community Labor Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), faith-based groups such as Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice and low-income immigrant rights organizations such as the Wage Justice Center and Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance.

“There’s a whole network of organizations that believe in unionization, believe in workers’ rights that are coming together with the CLEAN Carwash workers across ethnic lines and really backing each other up,” says Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

— From the AFL-CIO newsletter

“Community Unionism” is becoming the new model for union organizing. Instead of viewing unions as something to be left at the shop or factory door, activists are seeing them as part of a community-wide coalition. That coalition helps the union organize and the union in turn supports that coalition in activities outside of the workplace.

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