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Contributing Author

Laborer Rights: CLASSY Awards Top 5

Programs that protect the rights of Laborers promote workforce development by addressing unfair compensation, discrimination in the workplace, trafficked laborers, skill gap and poor workplace conditions. View the key indicators of this subcategory here.


Labor Link
Good World Solutions
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING There are 4,000,000 people currently working in the ready-made garment sector in Bangladesh. In April, 1,100 workers were killed in a factory collapse. Why? Because those workers were invisible. When they saw cracks in the walls, they had no channel to report it to the companies buying the clothing they sew, and no way to stop this preventable tragedy. Millions of low-wage workers endure poor working conditions everyday and have no way to communicate with decision-makers.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Labor Link
Program Name

Dhaka, Bangladesh
Location

2010
Start date

Tom Rausch
Program Director

@GoodWorldTech[/su_pullquote]

Labor Link gives workers a free and anonymous channel – through their own mobile phones – to report on working conditions, opinions and needs in real time. By combining Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology with basic Business Intelligence (BI) software, Labor Link is able to capture data and analyze it into actionable recommendations, which are given to decision-makers to align business and sourcing practices with worker needs. Data has been used to address sexual harassment, enhance training and improve worker housing. From 2012 to 2013, Labor Link expanded their reach from a base of 20,000 workers, farmers and artisans to 72,365 in nine countries. They also cut their cost-per-impact in half from $14 per worker reached to $6, aiming to cut it in half again in 2015 to $3. By giving workers a voice and companies real-time visibility into their supply chains, Labor Link introduces a new accountability mechanism to push for change. This new power dynamic improves workplace conditions, enhances worker-management communication, and boosts worker livelihoods and financial security. LEARN MORE.

[su_quote cite=”Tom Rausch, Senior Product Manager” class=”top5″]We’re continuously strengthening the back-end platform and service reliability of Labor Link and maintaining 30-40% response rates with workers. In 2014, we’re looking to standardize survey questions so we can compare data and begin to publish data by country and sector to advance the public knowledge on working conditions. [/su_quote]
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Slavery Footprint
Made In A Free World
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING Currently, 27 million men, women, and children are trapped in slavery globally, many of whom make the products we use on a daily basis. These individuals are forced to work at different levels of very murky supply chains. Forced labor exists in many industries including, but not limited to, food, cosmetics, clothing, technology, and jewelry.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Slavery Footprint
Program Name

United States
Location

2011
Start date

Justin Dillon
Program Director

@madeinafreewrld[/su_pullquote]

Made In A Free World believes the free market will free people. In order to end this injustice, consumers and businesses must work together; consumers must demand products made without slave labor and businesses must meet that demand. In September 2011, with the help of the U.S. State Department, Made in a Free World created SlaveryFootprint.org, an online survey that gives individuals an understanding of how slave labor goes into many of the products we use and buy on a daily basis. After an individual discovers their Slavery Footprint, they are invited to be a part of a larger movement of people taking action to end modern-day slavery. Individuals participate in campaigns, donate to victims of forced labor, host awareness events, and solicit businesses to address slavery in their supply chains. Slavery Footprint has allowed over 1.6 million people to discover their connection to modern-day slavery. Individuals, governments, schools, and nonprofits have integrated their platform into work and education models. Over 445,397 people from 226 countries have taken further action to let companies know they want products without slave labor. LEARN MORE.

[su_quote cite=”Barack Obama, President of the United States ” class=”top5″]Every citizen can take action. By learning more, by going to the website that we helped create – SlaveryFootprint.org; by speaking up and insisting that the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the products we buy are made free of forced labor; by standing up against the degradation and abuse of women. [/su_quote]


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Direct Representation and Litigation Support
Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc.
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING There are 100,000 migrant workers coming to the U.S. each year on H-2 temporary work visas. H-2 workers are often recruited from regions of Mexico with high rates of poverty. Workers are often forced to pay substantial recruitment fees to obtain work in the US and arrive in the US with recruitment debt, which makes them vulnerable to abuse. After returning to Mexico, if they suffer an accident or wage violations in the US, they have no right under immigration law to return to pursue justice.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Direct Representation and Litigation Support
Program Name

United States
Location

2005
Start date

Jessica Stender
Program Director

@CDMigrante[/su_pullquote]

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (CDM) is the first transnational legal services organization dedicated to defending the U.S. workplace rights of Mexico-based migrants. Through their Direct Representation and Litigation Support program, CDM represents workers in high-impact litigation and support U.S.-based lawyers with clients in Mexico to ensure that migrants have access to justice, advising workers of their right to opt in to class actions, facilitating transnational discovery and ensuring that injured migrants can pursue workers’ compensation, despite immigration barriers. CDM pioneered this transnational advocacy strategy to ensure that injured workers can return to the U.S. to obtain medical care and compensation. In 2013, CDM defended and referred 265 legal claims and assisted Mexico-based clients in getting $218,000 in settlement funds. In the past 5 years, CDM’s litigation victories have increased employment rights and protections for migrant workers. LEARN MORE.

[su_quote cite=”Jessica Stender, Program Director” class=”top5″]By aggressively and successfully defending the U.S. legal claims of Mexico-based migrants, CDM is overcoming the border as a barrier to justice. Our successful legal advocacy benefits other workers, beyond our clients, because it demonstrates that employers cannot violate the rights of low-wage migrant workers with impunity. Our victories signal that employers must respect the rights of all workers. [/su_quote]
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Building the High Road
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING The restaurant industry is one of the two largest private sector employers in the nation. Census data shows that in regions across America, the restaurant industry and service sector in general clearly present an increasingly important aspect of the economy, rapidly replacing declining manufacturing jobs, and potentially providing living wage jobs and career ladders. However, studies show that women, immigrants, and people of color face significant barriers, including discrimination, lack of training, and lack of social networks in advancing up the career ladders to obtain these jobs.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Building the High Road
Program Name

United States
Location

2002
Start date

Sekou Siby
Program Director

@rocunited[/su_pullquote]

Restaurant Opportunities Centered United (ROC) promotes the ‘high road’ to profitability through partnerships with responsible restaurateurs, cooperative restaurant development, and a workforce-development program that moves low-income workers into livable-wage jobs and introduces them to a college pathway. Their High Road Program builds models for high road restaurant employment, partnerships with responsible employers nationwide, produces joint research around worker-friendly workplace practices, developed the first restaurant worker job training and placement program focused on fine-dining and engaging employers to speak publicly in favor of responsible workplace practices. ROC developed the diner guide accompanied with a mobile app to provide information on wages, benefits, and the promotion practices of the most popular restaurants in America in at least 9 major cities. They’ve organized over 100 ‘high road’ employer partners in 12 localities nationwide to join their efforts and have helped more than 5,000 workers move to livable wage jobs in the industry. By creating a body of responsible employers to lead this effort, they have been able to create a new paradigm in the restaurant industry that values responsible restaurant workplace policies. LEARN MORE.

[su_quote cite=”Sekou Siby, Program Director” class=”top5″]By building high road models of employment, we will be able to create a new paradigm within the restaurant industry that values decent working conditions, including paid sick leave, better wages, and equal opportunity to advance regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. [/su_quote]
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Frontline Partners Program
Free the Slaves
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING There are currently 21 million people in slavery. It’s estimated that India leads the world’s highest prevalence of slavery, especially in the deeply impoverished states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka. Entire families and villages are held in debt bondage, working off illegal hereditary debts under the threat of violence. Young girls are frequently trafficked into brothels in larger cities, where they are raped and made to work as prostitutes.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Frontline Partners Program
Program Name

Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka, India
Location

2000
Start date

Karen Stauss
Program Director

@FreetheSlaves[/su_pullquote]

Free the Slaves works with liberators on the frontlines who risk their lives to bring slaves to freedom. Using a community-based model, Free the Slaves stimulates local demand for change. They prioritize this local ownership of anti-slavery processes by asking communities what they need to address the root causes of their enslavement and then assist them in implementing those solutions. Armed with community feedback, Free the Slaves organizes the most affected communities to liberate themselves by challenging the slaveholders and traffickers, and demanding official raids to release individuals who cannot free themselves. Across over 400 communities, local residents are moving from passive acceptance of slavery and trafficking as “normal” to understanding their human rights and how to use collective, peaceful power to protect themselves, an essential step to permanently ending slavery in their villages. Local anti-slavery activists are networking together across whole Districts so they can learn from each other and so that the government can no longer pretend slavery does not exist. With close to 7,000 slaves freed, Free the Slaves is creating the infrastructure that will not only eliminate slavery, but resist new instances. LEARN MORE.

[su_quote cite=”Karen Stauss, Program Director” class=”top5″]Through our work, we are seeing communities once plagued by vulnerability stand up to the traffickers. We know by addressing those vulnerabilities and doing it through local grassroots partners, that this is not a one off. That communities who become free can stay free, that they can spread the positive contagion to other villages and that if all agencies coordinated to build strong communities, slavery would disappear. We won’t stop until we see that happen. [/su_quote]

What Does Slavery Look Like Today? from Free the Slaves on Vimeo.
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The Human Rights Experts

The Leadership Council is an honorary board comprised of a diverse group of experts that will collectively determine the winners of the CLASSY Awards in this cause sector. Their unique perspective and valuable insight establishes this recognition as one of the highest honors in the social sector.

LC_human- BLOG

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Photo credit: Stacey Uy

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