Los Angeles Worker Center Network Relaunch Invigorates Workers’ Movement

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A project formed by a coalition of worker centers and labor organizations celebrated its new era with a holiday mixer and relaunch event

CHINATOWN, LOS ANGELES—Yesterday, the Los Angeles Worker Center Network (LAWCN), a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-industry project formed by a coalition of eight worker centers and labor organizations, celebrated its official relaunch with a community gathering at their new office in Chinatown. The launch marks a new chapter for the worker center movement and is the result of a years-long effort and continued collaboration amongst worker centers and coalition partners, with a goal of improving the working conditions and lives of low-wage workers throughout the region.

“Low-wage workers are the essential workers who keep our city running. The Los Angeles Worker Center Network is committed to strengthening workers’ rights in this post-pandemic labor movement by helping build on the foundations laid by the many worker centers throughout the state, and especially here in Los Angeles,” said Armando Gudino, executive director of LAWCN. “Through progressive organizing and advocacy, worker centers will continue to play a leading role in improving the lives of all low-wage, non-union workers in Southern California.”

Established in 2017, LAWCN members include the CLEAN Carwash Worker Center, Garment Worker Center, Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, Los Angeles Black Worker Center, Pilipino Workers Center, Restaurant Opportunities Center of Los Angeles, UCLA Labor Center, and the Warehouse Worker Resource Center.

Through progressive policy-making, capacity-building, advocacy, services, and organizing, LAWCN builds upon over a decade of coordinated activities among the region’s worker centers to improve conditions in low-wage industries. LAWCN leverages worker centers’ combined strengths, membership base, and industry expertise to sustain the organizing and leadership of workers, particularly immigrant, refugee, and Black workers, women and LGBTQ+ workers, and other workers of color.

“The CLEAN Carwash Worker Center is proud to be a member of the Los Angeles Worker Center Network and will continue to stand in solidarity with workers in the home care, restaurant, garment, and other low-wage industries,” said Flor Rodriguez, executive director of the CLEAN Carwash Worker Center, the country’s first carwash worker center. “When workers and advocates of all backgrounds come together, we can build political power and improve the lives of women, immigrants, and workers of color by putting an end to harmful practices that lead to wage theft and discrimination.”

Los Angeles is the epicenter of deep worker exploitation in a variety of sectors, underscoring the need for a coordinated effort to address issues such as wage theft, misclassification, discrimination, employment access, and more. The issue of wage theft especially has been identified and established as a major concern impacting the city’s low-paid workers. A 2010 UCLA Labor Center report found that almost 30% of Los Angeles’ workers surveyed had experienced wage theft in the previous week, and that female and immigrant workers were more likely to experience it.

Building on the work of the End Wage Theft Coalition, LAWCN has played a critical role in establishing wage theft as an issue at the city, county, and state levels. As part of the successful 2016 campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 at the city, county, and state levels, LAWCN worked to ensure that robust wage enforcement include the establishment of local enforcement agencies in the City and County of Los Angeles in 2017. In 2022, LAWCN’s members and partners helped recover stolen wages totaling over $3.6 million dollars for impacted home care, car wash, and restaurant workers alone.