Highlighting Some of Our 2015 Accomplishments
Saturday, December 26, 2015
We accomplished so much in 2015! We thank our partners and allies that we have had the pleasure to work with this year, who have given the BWC so much support, and with whom together we all greatly magnify the impact we have in our collective movement for social justice for immigrant workers. We give a special word of grateful thanks to the foundations and other funders who have given us the financial means to carry out this important work. Without you, little of what we report here would have ever taken place in 2015, including:
- We welcomed over 5000 members of our community to our offices in Boston, Hyannis, and Bridgeport, and offered them support, education, and advocacy around issues of wage theft and other labor law violations, and problems with immigration.
- We took in 170 formal wage theft cases this year. Sixty-one of these were resolved by direct mediation between the Center and employers, yielding over $75,000 for workers. This does not include cases the Center referred to the MA Attorney General’s office, the US Department of Labor, to private attorneys, or to small claims court.
- We created a new Workers’ Council, Construindo Justiça (Building Justice), to take the lead in fighting wage theft in our region for building construction, maintenance, and cleaning workers.
- Workers and staff, in partnership with Justice at Work, visited more than ten employers’ homes with demand letters for settlements, after negotiations to win restitution for workers were unfruitful.
- As a worker center, we were admitted as a community member by the Greater Boston Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and are working more closely with Boston’s Community-Labor United and the AFL-CIO on issues of labor rights and racial justice.
- For the fourth year, we are training hundreds of construction workers in OSHA safety precautions to prevent workplace falls, a major cause of injury and death in our community. We offer these classes both in Portuguese and in Spanish.
- In 2015, we held 48 fall prevention training sessions for over 640 residential construction workers, in Portuguese and Spanish, and through a train the trainer course, now have cadre of new Portuguese speaking trainers who can teach our community how to prevent falls, the most common workplace injury that affects male immigrant workers.
- We are part of the Wage Action Fight for 15 coalition, and attended many marches, rallies and meetings this year to advocate for a living wage and better benefits for fast-food and other low-age workers.
- In support of SEIU home care and nursing home workers, we attended many actions, lobby days, and events to support advances in workers’ pay and more favorable contract negotiations.
- Through our Domestic Worker Advocacy Network, we continued to educate workers and employers about the provisions of the new Massachusetts Domestic Worker Bill of Rights and build a strong base of worker leaders in the State of Connecticut as well.
- As part of our Massachusetts Domestic Workers bill of rights implementation plan we held over 12 workshops, staffed all-day informational sessions at community events, such as health and cultural fairs.
- We are the lead organization in the Connecticut campaign to achieve a Bill of Rights for domestic workers, and were instrumental in 2015 in passing a new Human Rights law that protects domestic workers them from discrimination for the first time.
- We continue to work on a domestic worker labor rights and safety hotline, in partnership with Studio-Rev of New York and the Northeastern University NuLawLab.
- To support implementation and public education around the Massachusetts Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, we have continued our domestic worker portrait photo exhibit, with photos by Mario Quiroz, entitled, “Invisible No More: Domestic Workers, New Laws, and a Changing Culture,” that continues its tour of Massachusetts libraries, most recently at Tufts University and UMass Lowell.
- Twenty-one women members of BWC participated in leadership training, and took the streets in Washington DC, Bridgeport CT, and Massachusetts advocating for immigration reform, workers’ rights, and racial justice.
- Partnering with Centro Presente, Intervalley Project, SIM, UU and other groups, we actively engaged with the campaigns to secure other immigrant and worker friendly bills on Beacon Hill, including the Safe Driving bill, the Trust Act, and the Subcontracting Regulation Act.
- Led by Centro Presente, and in collaboration with Student Immigrant Movement, we made several visits to the State House and engaged in conversations with our elected officials, including Governor Baker, to advocate for the Trust Act, the Safe Driving Act, and the Tuition Equity Bill currently under consideration on Beacon Hill.
- We have been active in workshops training our community and educators about the DACA and DAPA deferred action programs in place or in process, that are already profoundly affecting the fortunes of many immigrant youth.
- Through participation in collective actions in Boston, and in public statements and testimonies, the BWC was a strong supporter of compassionate action toward refugee resettlement in Massachusetts, including unaccompanied minors from Central America and Syrians displaced by the civil war in their country.
- In 2015, the BWC was involved in four research projects as principal investigator or partner: 1) the NIH-funded Aqui-La Project on Transnational Immigrant Health in collaboration with UMass Boston and Boston University; 2) the Connecticut Domestic Worker Labor Conditions Survey in collaboration with UMass Boston; 3) a focus group study of both Brazilian and Latino cleaners, in Portuguese and Spanish, for the National Association of Latin American and Caribbean Communities and the Center for Disease Control, on workplace safety and health; and, 4) a wage theft survey of cleaning workers as a partner to SEIU-32BJ in Massachusetts.
- We continued our strong ESOL program, under the City of Boston’s English for New Bostonians program.
- We also partnered for the second year with Tech Goes Home to offer our ESOL students training in computer literacy, as part of our efforts to reduce the digital divide that disadvantages many members our community.
- We attended Black Lives Matter marches, trainings, and meetings, and held public dialogues about racial justice as a part of our work this year.
- We are privileged to be part of a national project, “And Still I Rise,” in collaboration with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, celebrating Black Women labor leaders, giving voice to their vision and goals, highlighting their achievements, and using it as a springboard for wider conversations about racial and gender justice within the organized labor movement.
The Brazilian Worker Center (formerly the Brazilian Immigrant Center) is a non-profit organization that arose from our community and belongs to it, and we accomplish great things on a shoestring, without any support from the Brazilian or US governments. Your support means a lot to us, and allows us to continue our work!
At the end of the year, in this time of generosity and giving, would you please consider making a donation to support our ongoing campaigns and our efforts to respond to the problems and needs faced by immigrant workers in our community? Your gift of funds to the Center in honor of a family member, friend, or colleague is also an outstanding way to show your appreciation of them during this beautiful holiday season.