The Workers’ Bowl is just around the corner, so it’s a good time to remind ourselves what it is we are fundraising for! One of the ways that WAC connects with workers is through our Workers’ Rights Phone Line. Over the years, it’s been a great way to introduce workers to the labour laws as well as a way to train leaders to share workers’ rights information with others. Will you chip in to help ensure we can keep training workers?
Every month, we receive hundreds of calls from workers looking to learn more about their rights at work and how to deal with bad bosses. The hotline operates in multiple languages and workers doing all sorts of different jobs in the GTA give us a ring when there’s trouble at work.
When we get their calls, we put workers in touch with a dedicated organizer who can point them to the resources they need. Sometimes that means sending them a fact sheet or inviting them to one of our monthly online Know Your Rights sessions. These workshops are a great way to gain knowledge of labour laws which they can then share with others in their workplaces or communities.
Other times it looks like helping them contact their boss to demand unpaid wages or an end to harassment. In many cases, we help workers come up with a strategy for addressing their workplace problems. Ultimately, what our organizers strive to do is arm workers with the knowledge and confidence they need to stand up for their rights now and in the future.
Jared Ong is one of the organizers who supports workers on our phone line. As a past WAC member and graduate of our Feet on the Ground training program, Jared knows how important it is not only to pass on useful information but to also raise workers’ expectations about what we can achieve together. “The WAC hotline is the front door to our movement,” he explains. “For hundreds of workers, it’s one small but crucial step toward getting a deeper understanding of their rights. Like every part of the work we do, we want to show the workers who call us that there is a vibrant, inclusive, multiracial workers movement that we’re building together. And we invite every worker to join us.”
At the Workers’ Action Centre, we like to find collective solutions to workers’ problems whenever possible. When workers call while experiencing wage theft, we invite them to a Defending Our Rights workshop where workers help each other strategize on recovering their unpaid wages. Veronica Zaragoza, another awesome WAC organizer who has been through all our worker training, has led many of these workshops in Spanish. And it’s just one of the many ways she’s helping to strengthen our community of workers!
All of the organizers who answer the phones came to this work through one of our campaigns or because they were experiencing problems at work and came to WAC for support. We know that every caller is a potential leader in our movement and we want them to see themselves that way too!
But that will take more worker education and leadership development programs. Help keep the worker movement strong! Please contribute to the Workers’ Bowl, our annual fundraiser with the OEERC.* Tax receipts are available for donations of $10 or more.
*The Workers’ Bowl is a joint fundraiser between WAC and the Ontario Employment Education & Research Centre (OEERC), which supports community leadership development. All donations go to the OEERC Education and Leadership Fund for Workers in Precarious Employment to create collaborative community leadership development and educational projects with WAC.