Leading worker centers are heavily supported by labor unions. Some have unionization of workforces as explicit goals. Labor unions enjoy the benefit of outsourcing their organization work to worker centers: Worker centers can engage in “organizational pickets” — protests to get a union recognized — of indefinite length, while labor organizations are restricted to 30-day pickets unless a petition for representation is filed.
The following worker centers are affiliated or otherwise linked to major international labor unions:
- Fast Food Forward: SEIU
- Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart): United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)
- Restaurant Opportunities Center-United (ROC): UNITE-HERE
- Working America: AFL-CIO
- Arise Chicago Workers Center: United Steelworkers
- Retail Action Project: Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, a subsidiary of UFCW
- Hotel Workers Rising: UNITE-HERE
- Laundry Workers Center United: Workers United, SEIU
Additionally, worker centers are frequently geographically focused. For example, ROC-United began in New York City and maintains a strong presence there, although it has expanded to other cities. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers was founded to promote the interests of farmworkers in southwestern Florida. Fast Food Forward concentrates primarily on fast food labor activism in New York City. Several other cities, including Chicago, St. Louis, and Milwaukee have seen “Workers Organizing Committees” lead employees on worker center-style walkouts.
Employers targeted by worker centers should be aware that they may be stalking horses for a unionization campaign and prepare accordingly.
Employees at a non-union worksite targeted by a worker center should make themselves aware of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act and state laws and the responsibilities that unionization requires before engaging with a worker center.