Grantees Fuerza Laboral - Power of Workers

Central Falls, RI
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We are a workers' rights center that organizes workers in our community to end labor exploitation. Based in Central Falls, Rhode Island and founded in 2006, we educate and train workers in their rights, develop new community leaders, and take direct action against injustices to win concrete victories. We work together with state and national coalitions in order to maximize our impact.

Our Organizing Philosophy:

At its core, Fuerza Laboral is a center for community organizing. While we believe providing services to our community is important, we know that services often create dependency on the service provider and relegate community members to a relative position of powerlessness. We are not advocates; we do not believe professional staff should speak on behalf of the people. We believe there is no testimony more powerful than that which comes directly from the source.

Building shared, lasting power:

Fuerza Laboral's goal in organizing workers is to create an environment in which people who share a common problem can work together for its solution, while building shared, lasting power. Our members and staff lovingly agitate workers to expand their view of what they thought possible for themselves. Our tactics include asking probing questions, bringing people experiencing similar problems together to support each other, using storytelling to relate stories of success and difficulty, and role-playing new experiences so that workers feel deeply prepared for almost any potentiality in a direct action, a press conference, or an interaction with the police. We practice at least as much and as hard for an action as a sports team would for a big game.

We believe that all human beings have worth and dignity, and that struggles for justice must be led by those who are most directly affected by injustice. We are witnesses to the fact that ordinary people, if given the opportunity, will take tremendous risks, show incredible courage, and work amazingly hard to achieve liberation. Just as important as the progress we win for the community is the transformation of the individuals involved in achieving that progress, both in their leadership and their sense of power and justice.

Action is the lifeblood of Fuerza:

We know that fear of taking action is very real, especially among people who are under constant threat of deportation. We address fear head-on by bringing experienced members to speak with new members before any action, and by naming the different risks and "what-if" scenarios. Then people can decide to opt-in or -out, but we try to avoid "analysis-paralysis." Shel Trapp, founder of NPA and a mentor to Fuerza Laboral, once said, "Out of every hundred people, maybe five will be ready to move into direct action. I go where those five want to go." Action is the lifeblood of Fuerza Laboral. The victories that come from those actions will inspire and embolden others to follow in their footsteps.

Our mission is to develop leaders to confront social injustice. As workers themselves are on the front lines of the injustices they face, they are experts on this injustice and are the best equipped to solve their problems with powerful and creative actions to obtain concrete results. Our engine is our reputation, credibility and confidence.

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