Worker centers are organizations where workers who lack union representation can organize for their labor rights.
These come in many forms and types (and often collaborate with unions). But as gig work has come to often displace the employer-employee relationship, a process that’s been called the “fissuring” of work, worker centers offer one way to respond.
For example, consider day laborers. Getting jobs at a street corner is highly risky and wage theft is common. The day laborer center enables workers to set standard conditions and wages. Today, more than 50 of these centers operate nationwide.
Worker centers also support domestic workers organize to gain labor rights which, due to racism, were denied to them in the “Wagner Act,” the main New Deal labor law. There are also several Black worker center networks, which operate across industries and in many cities, including Greensville (SC), Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, Baltimore, Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington, DC.