While workers’ rights in Ontario have gotten weaker throughout the pandemic, the Workers’ Action Centre has been building workers’ power to face these difficult times. The pandemic has brought renewed attention to the poor conditions in low-wage, precarious jobs, and it isn’t over yet. We offer education and leadership programs that empower workers to defend their rights and speak up for justice. The Workers’ Bowl, our yearly fundraiser with the OEERC*, is what allows us to keep running these programs to build worker power.
Over the last 18 months, we’ve heard many prominent figures call essential, low-income workers “heroes” yet leave those on the frontline without basic protections. Right now, politicians are jumping over each other to be seen as the champion of workers. But it is workers who have done the most to improve working conditions by speaking out, educating each other and organizing together.
And together we are winning! More than 100 members participated in the Community Outreach Project this year, distributing materials in several languages about what to do if you’re paid in cash, how to protect yourself on the job, changes to COVID income support, and more. Outreach and workshops drew in many new members who are growing as leaders in their communities.
The confidence that comes with leadership development is why workers keep fighting and winning together. When Elisa, a migrant worker from Mexico, got back the $1,800 that her employer stole from her, we celebrated. At first, she felt powerless, facing threats of deportation when she asked for her money. It was when she came to the Workers’ Action Centre that she gained confidence and recovered her money. Elisa said, “I was able to fight but I didn’t do it by myself. I had the support of the Workers’ Action Centre.” (You can read about Elisa’s victory here.)
Just last week, three truck drivers recovered more than $5,000 in stolen wages with the support of the Workers’ Action Centre. Now those same workers are supporting their co-workers to do the same.
When workers call, we’re here. Whether through the Workers’ Rights Information Phone Line, community outreach actions on the streets or in online workshops, we teach workers about their rights and help them become leaders in their neighbourhoods. Funding from the OEERC Education and Leadership Fund for Workers in Precarious Employment makes this possible. Will you donate to help us continue our work? Give any amount today, to help strengthen workers’ voices and leadership as we move toward a just recovery for all.
*The Ontario Employment Education & Research Centre (OEERC) supports community leadership development, which strengthens the ability of diverse communities to know and protect their rights at work. All donations to the Workers’ Bowl will go to the OEERC Education and Leadership Fund for Workers in Precarious Employment to create collaborative community leadership development and educational projects with the Workers’ Action Centre.