History & Mission
Chicago Community and Workers’ Rights (CCWR) was founded in June 2009 by a group of Latino immigrant workers who saw a need for an organization dedicated to empowering all laborers to defend their rights. The group came together as part of the Chicago Worker’s Collaborative “Vigilantes Laborales” program, becoming an independent institution when the host organization’s focus shifted to working primarily with day laborers.
CCWR is an organization led by workers for workers, regardless of immigration status, dedicated to educating, building leadership, and gathering resources in order to develop organizing tools and collective strategies of resistance against labor rights abuses, towards just living conditions for our families.
Chicago Community and Workers’ Rights believes that all people should have access to dignified well-paid work regardless of their identity, immigration status, abilities, age or where they come from.
Our areas of work are: Education and empowerment, for workers by workers; Emergency support for workers’ in crisis; and Self-determination of workers.
Education & Empowerment
In the area of Education and Empowerment CCWR carries out Community Defenders trainings, which are workshops that teach the tools available for workers to fight for their rights and employs the workers’ own experiences to learn from each other how to organize more effectively in their workplaces. Some of these workers are able to then lend time and support to continue CCWR’s work.
CCWR also organizes a Worker’s Congress every year. This is a space for workers to talk about their struggles and learn from each other. It is a space where more labor rights training occurs as well as information about u-visas, tools for making unions accountable to workers, and the rights of undocumented immigrants.
In the area of self-determination of workers CCWR’s helps support the creation and sustainability of worker-owned business collectives and worker-led organizations and institutions. Up to date CCWR has helped to support the formation of three organizations by workers and for workers’ rights: the Asociacion de Trabajadores Unidos, Northwest Community Services and Workers Support, and D’Mateo Empowerment Center. With more worker-led organizations more people can be supported in defending their right to safe and well-paid jobs. CCWR and these organizations are figuring out how to collaborate to create a more encompassing support network for workers.
The Community Defenders and Executive Director provide emergency support for workers who come to CCWR seeking help and collaboration. In 2011 CCWR has collaborated with groups of people in 4 workplaces and with individuals, affecting a total of about 1,240 people from various types of work including hotel and manufacturing workplaces. CCWR is helping the groups to document grievances and file charges in the National Labor Relations Board as well as charges against the violation of different state laws by the employers. All the cases are still ongoing and we continue to work with these groups to assess the situation and put pressure where necessary to get results, supporting the workers in how they chose to defend their jobs.
Our leaders, CCWR Community Defenders, are people from the community who have had to fight for their own rights in the workplace, most having come to CCWR for support after experiencing unfair working conditions or being fired for organizing. Community Defenders educate themselves in labor rights and educate other workers, sharing experiences and knowledge with each other, to fight for their rights and for jobs that pay living wages with better benefits that respect their health and humanity.
CCWR believes that the people most affected by policy issues should be fully involved in addressing these issues and supports all workers to the best of its abilities. Primarily working with Latino immigrant workers, the workers are invited to become Community Defenders and then join the organization’s decision-making bodies and everyday work, becoming the driving and directing force of CCWR.
CCWR would like to thank the Chicago Community Trust and the Woods Fund and Crossroads Fund for their support, as well as the individuals and organizations that believe in us and have made our work possible.