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Christy McGill, Art Teacher - Divide Elementary School, Lookout, WV.

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Worker Center Partnerships

The National Taxi Workers Alliance made history when its leader, Bhairavi Desai, accepted the organization's charter as a member union of the AFL-CIO on Oct. 20, 2011.

The union movement works to improve the lives of all people who work—not just those who have the benefits of union membership. In fact, the AFL-CIO has formed partnerships with worker centers and other groups of working people who do not have the legal right to collective bargaining. Some, like taxi workers, have been misclassified as independent contractors. Others, including domestic workers and day laborers, have been excluded from coverage by U.S. labor laws. All workers deserve fair treatment, respect and a voice at work, regardless of how they are classified by employers or regarded by labor law.

In 2006, the AFL-CIO began to formalize its relationship with the flourishing worker center movement—-domestically and internationally—in a number of ways. That year, the federation’s Executive Council authorized worker centers to formally affiliate with state labor federations, local labor councils and Working America. At the same time, the AFL-CIO entered into an historic partnership with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network under which the two organizations pledged to work together on state and local enforcement of rights, worker protections in areas including wage and hour laws, health and safety regulations, immigrants’ rights and employee misclassification, as well as immigration reform.

The AFL-CIO continues to work with worker centers, in both the United States and Mexico, on organizing campaigns, policy initiatives and legislative and other joint efforts. In September 2011, the National Taxi Workers’ Alliance (the first worker center to formally affiliate with a local AFL-CIO body) became the first nontraditional workers’ organization to become formally chartered by the national AFL-CIO in more than six decades. 

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In our regular weekly feature, we'll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the persons or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.

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Need more information, or to connect a worker center with the AFL-CIO? Send an email to workercenters [at] aflcio.org.

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