5 Groups Building Power For Non-Union Workers

All over the world, when laborers band together as a collective, they are able to achieve higher wages, greater benefits, safer conditions, and increased job security. Unfortunately, many toil without these protections, which can exacerbate marginalization and exploitation. Luckily, there are non-profits that strive to improve the situation of these workers. In no particular order, here are some organizations working to bolster the strength of laborers who do not enjoy the privileges of unionization.

At #1 is the Red Umbrella Fund, which helps sex worker-led groups to organize themselves and speak out against the human rights violations they face. The Fund's values include an opposition to criminalization and all forms of stigma surrounding sex work, a commitment to evidence-based decision-making, and a recognition that many people are impacted by intersecting forms of marginalization.

When supporting advocacy groups, the Red Umbrella Fund pursues three mutually-reinforcing strategies: assisting with grantmaking and accompaniment activities such as making introductions and providing mentorship and feedback, raising the profile of this issue among funders, and making sure that sex workers are taking the lead in the development process.

#2 on our list is the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which calls for respect, recognition, and inclusion in labor protections for those who do the work of caring for and cleaning other people's homes, the majority of whom in the United States are immigrants and women of color. NDWA's members are able to connect with others, obtain benefits, and get involved with the movement.

The Alliance is affiliated with local groups that organize and serve domestic workers throughout the country. NDWA supports these groups with technical assistance and resources that help local initiatives to obtain higher wages, the right to unionize, protections against discrimination in employment and sexual harassment, and benefits such as health care, paid sick days, and paid time off.

Coming in at #3 is Kalayaan, which provides advice and support services to migrant domestic workers in the United Kingdom, many of whom have been exploited, abused, or trafficked. In addition, the group produces data and briefings on the situation of these workers in order to influence policy and push for improvements. Kalayaan also offers English classes.

One of the London-based charity's key campaigns has been attempting to help migrant domestic workers who arrive in Britain tied to their employers on short, non-renewable visas, which makes them unable to leave without breaching the immigration rules, even in conditions of serious abuse or human trafficking.

#4 on our overview is Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing, a not-for-profit that focuses on empowering the working poor in the informal economy, especially women, to secure their livelihoods. WIEGO believes that all workers should have equal economic opportunities, rights, and protections.

The charity promotes change by documenting life in urban economies, improving statistics, and expanding knowledge on the informal economy. WIEGO builds networks and capacity among informal worker organizations and, acting jointly with those groups, attempts to influence local, national, and international policies.

Rounding out the list at #5 is Project X, a Singapore-based nonprofit that provides social, emotional, and health services to sex and entertainment workers, and seeks to end violence and exploitation in the industry. The group does both online and in-person outreach throughout the country, spreading the message that all forms of labor should be treated with respect and that nobody needs to suffer in silence.

Project X holds events that foster closeness. Past examples include a movie screening fundraiser, a poetry reading and photography exhibition, and an event that encouraged people in the sex work community to share letters of appreciation for one another. The group also provides counselling, practical advice, education, and free sexual health testing, condoms, and lubricants.