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Worker Centers

 Sharon Block, Lisa Brem, and Brittany Deitch  
Product number:
June 2018
37 pages
Product Type:
Discussion-Based Case Study
Educators / Non-Profits:
Link to Author Page:


 Saket Soni, founder and Executive Director of the New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ), was pondering the next phase of his organization. This case study outlines the inception and growth of the NOWCRJ and one of its largest programs: the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA). As the NGA became larger and shifted its focus away from New Orleans, Soni had to decide how to balance the needs of both organizations and to determine what structure would enable them to thrive in the future. In addition to exploring the questions confronting the NOWCRJ and the NGA, Part 1 of this case study gives an overview of the shifting labor landscape in the United States and the many issues faced by today’s low-wage and contingent workers. It summarizes the trends in the labor force in recent decades, the waning influence of labor unions, and the subsequent rise in number and power of worker centers as labor advocates try to address the increasingly uneven playing field for U.S. workers. Part 2 of the case study gives an overview of the legal framework that defines and affects labor and workforce issues in the United States. 

Learning Objectives

• Understand the differences between worker centers, labor unions, and other labor advocacy movements,
• Assess the NOWCRJ and the NGA on the dimensions of power, sustainability, and scope,
• Articulate the opportunities and obstacles facing NOWCRJ and NGA specifically and worker centers in general.
• Understand that, although laws may be enacted for a particular purpose, their impact may change over time, producing very different results than those intended.
• Learn how creative lawyers can use the law as a tool to advance policy objectives that may be very different than those intended by the laws’ drafters.
• Understand how moments of crisis can create great opportunities for trying new solutions to old problems.

Subjects Covered 

 Non-profits, Workforce, Human Rights 


Geographic: United States

Industry: Non-profit

Event Year Begin: 2018


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