ONE DC's Black Workers Center (BWC), is a member-led space that builds racial and economic justice through popular education, direct action and worker-owned alternatives. BWC popular education covers workers' rights, alternative economies, and the intersections of Blackness and work. To assist with the task of organizing for racial and economic equity, the BWC works with law students and workers' rights groups in the District to train workers on their legal rights and on labor organizing tactics and strategies. The BWC also functions as an incubation space for alternatives to low-wage work. Cooperation DC, a project of ONE DC that emerged from the BWC is working to launch two childcare cooperatives and a food cooperative. In 2017, the BWC will launch a coding program that teaches computer programming and design skills to BWC members and mentors them through hiring processes in the tech industry. Partnered with a larger National Black Worker Center project, the BWC envisions a transformation from a system that disenfranchises and under-employs to one that emphasizes dignified and sustainable work.
What is a Black Workers Center?
- A center for finding and creating positive, dignified Black work and training.
- An incubation space for alternatives to low-wage work, such as worker cooperatives, collectives, and small businesses created, owned, and operated by Black workers.
- A place to openly discuss the intersection of race and work, particularly what it means to be "working while Black," as well as a place for Black workers to positively recognize their Blackness.
- An environment to challenge bad employers who exploit, cheat, & steal from their workers.
- An educational space to talk about ways to work safer and for more money and benefits.
Why Black workers? Why not just a Workers Center or a Workers Center for all people of color?
Black unemployment in the United States has been consistently double that of white employment since 1954, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics first started collecting data by race. 70% of Black workers are employed in 5 industries and are concentrated in the lowest paid jobs in these industries. Chronic black unemployment and underemployment will not disappear unless we 1) talk about how race & work intersect and 2) create spaces where Black workers can create their own opportunities for training, employment, and worker ownership.
That being said, all are welcome regardless of race to help build the movement for creating a Black Workers Center in DC.
Why should I join?
If you identify as a Black or African-American worker, we need you! In order to be successful, we need Black workers to raise their voice, share their stories, and help mold the vision and goals of what a Black Workers Center in DC needs to be.
We need long-time DC residents. We need long-term unemployed and underemployed workers. We need single parents and returning citizens. We need people who may not have ever had a formal job, but have used their skills to make money, for example, providing childcare or transportation for friends or family, cleaning, doing lawn work, etc. We need Black workers of all classes, sexual orientations, gender identities, religions, and identities.
When is the next meeting?
Check out our Upcoming Events page for Black Workers Center & Right to Income meeting dates.
Additional Reading & Exploration
Sounds great! How can I get involved?
Fill out the form below. Or, email email@example.com, call 202.232.2915 or visit us at the ONE DC office.
But I joined One DC to do more, if I can. I work in education as a digital marketing coordinator and webmaster for a Maryland Non-public Special Ed school, and I would love to help with increasing the online presence of the BWC, in order to increase our ability to provide services to under-served workers
I was also wondering about the possibility of setting up some form of public computer access for folks at the Center. I would likely be able to have computers donated by my employer and would be glad to lend my expertise in setting them up and maintaining them, and to make myself available as a guide and tutor to help workers looking for information, applying for jobs or unemployment...
Of course, I am not at all certain if any of my ideas are useful or doable, but they are things I am enthusiastic about.
More importantly, I would like to learn more about One DC and the BWC. I have a tremendous interest in discovering the practical path to producing more worker-controlled co-ops, researching legal issues surrounding labor, housing and equitable education, and opposing the pervasive, abusive and unjust incarceration of so many vulnerable Americans.
I now know that I have a lot more to learn, and that I must do more than sympathize, more than philosophize about our current predicament. I must take action -- I feel as if we, as a community, cannot afford not to act.
And it is my hope that making time to volunteer at the Black Workers' Center will help me to make some small contribution by serving my fellow man.
Informatiion/News, etc for African American Black People.
The first six-month phase of the project allows homeless men, women, and children to heal completely and permanently on all levels: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, so that they can become all that God created them to be.
The second six-month phase of the project allows them to create financial stability. I know that homeless residents are encouraged to get jobs that pay barely enough to get by which is ridiculous! Many end up back in homeless shelters if their hours are cut.
I know of a guy named Mike Long who earns $1 million per month online selling affiliate products (mostly software he says). I know of another young man who earned $2.7 million selling t-shirts mostly online. So, there is NO REASON for people to be living in these kinds of conditions in the richest country on earth! But people must do their part by raising their consciousness and vibration. Things will not get better until they themselves get better.
I am working on ways to create income that will provide a high standard of living without draining the life out of the person who is working. I believe that our work should be enjoyable and a blessing to the giver and receiver.