The Workers Center is a place for workers in the Pioneer Valley to build community, organize to make change in their workplace, and advocate for pro-worker legislation at the local, state and federal level.
The Pioneer Valley Workers Center hosts regular Legal Clinics and Know Your Rights trainings in English and Spanish (please contact us ahead of time if another language is needed). If you want to learn more about your rights on the job or have questions about the legality/ethics of practices in your workplace, attend one of our clinics or contact us to learn more. More information on upcoming trainings can be found on our Facebook page and our Events page.
Health and Safety
The Workers Center hosts regular workshops that address health and safety in the workplace. Workshops are free, and a great way to learn about identifying and addressing safety issues in the workplace. If you have an immediate concern about unsafe conditions at your place of employment, contact the Workers Center by email or call the office to talk to a staff person.
Restaurant and Farm Workers
The Workers Center has partnered with the UMass Labor Center to conduct research on working conditions of restaurant and farm workers in the Pioneer Valley. This important research is helping to identify challenges these workers face. If you are interested in participating please contact the Workers Center. A staff person will make an appointment to sit down with you to conduct a 20 minute interview; the surveys are anonymous and the names of the workers are not associated with the surveys.
There are many ways to address workplace challenges, one of which is through legislative action. Recently passed legislation, such as raising the minimum wage and Earned Sick time, will have tremendous impact on the workers in our community. To successfully pass such legislation workers must be on the front line, meeting with legislators, writing letters, visiting the State House, and educating others about pro-worker legislation. Contact us to find out more about how you can play a role in passing good legislation for our community!
If you have any concerns about working conditions at your place of employment, contact the Workers Center by email or call the office to talk to a staff person.
7/10-7/16: This art exhibit will be up all week, punctuated by a series of events in the evenings. Composed of twenty-five large black and white portraits, text and audio clips from twenty-five interviews with workers, this exhibition highlights the voices and faces of people affected by low wage restaurant work. SUNDAY, 7/10: Exhibit Opening, 6-9pm >Refreshments served, suggested donations welcome ($0-75) >Artist/Worker Panel, 6:30-7:30 WEDNESDAY, 7/13: >Film, The Hand That Feeds, 6-7pm >Gallery Viewing, 7:30-9pm FRIDAY: Voices From the Food Chain, 6-7pm Joint event with the Food Chain Workers Alliance >Panel with workers, owners, and food justice activists Suggested donations welcome ($0-75) >Music, 7-8pmCOME JOIN US! & RESERVE TICKETS HERE
We need YOU, our Food Action Solidarity Team (FAST), and anyone else who cares about workers rights to join us in ACTION! What an exciting few weeks for the Workers Center! On March 21st, we presented our joint study with the UMass Amherst Labor Center on the Northampton restaurant industry to the Northampton City Council Committee on Community Resources. It has created a tremendous stir among workers, business owners, the media and our community. Local media coverage has ignored the voices of the most vulnerable workers: people of color, undocumented immigrants, and "back of the house" workers. Our public release will make sure the voices of workers are heard loud and clear, and that community support is given to business owners who follow the law. Come show solidarity with the brave workers who will be sharing their stories of working in restaurants and the construction trade.
Please come join us at the workers center this Tuesday for an Immigrant Worker Rights workshop on documentation, health insurance, and rights on the job. There will be a labor/immigration lawyer and health care provider to speak about these issues. We will have childcare and dinner for all!
Food Chains reveals the human cost in our food supply and the complicity of large buyers of produce like fast food and supermarkets, demonstrating how an intrepid group of farmworkers battle the $4 trillion global supermarket industry. The event is free and open to the public. But there will be a $5 suggested donation
The second in our Restaurant Worker Led Cooking Classes Sushi 101! Lin Geng a local Sushi Chef in town, a student at GCC, and a worker organizer with the PVWC will be teaching this sushi class. He has been making sushi for over 12 years and will be teaching us some knife skills for cutting fish, giving us techniques on how to roll the perfect veggie roll and a couple other surprises as well! All materials will be provided. You can bring your own apron if you would like. There will be wine and other appetizers provided for the evening as well. Class is limited to 20 people so sign up fast! Email Rose at email@example.com or call 413-570-3060 to reserve your spot.
Workers and the community invited to: Come to the Pioneer Valley Workers Center to hear from an immigration lawyer and Boston organizer. They have both won status for undocumented immigrants and stopped deportations. Childcare, dinner and translation will be provided.
The first in our Restaurant Worker Led Cooking Classes Bake the Perfect Apple Pie! Maggie and Clare Bakers at the Florence Pie Bar will be hosting a class at the home of Maggie and Caitlin DuBois. Come learn how to make a crust and create the perfect apple pie! You can learn these new skills from these talented workers and share the results with your family and friends on Thanksgiving. All materials will be provided (if you have an extra rolling pin bring it along) and you will be able to take your unbaked pie home with you. There will be wine and other appetizers provided for the evening as well. Class is limited to 20 people so sign up fast! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 413-570-3060 to reserve your spot
The aim of this one-day conference is to bring together stakeholders including farm owners/employers, farm and retail food workers, farm worker representatives,worker activists, government, and university faculty and students to begin to share what we know about the conditions workers face, and to take the first step in developing a research and action plan to improve labor conditions in the Massachusetts food system.For more info click here
This year's show will feature 25 visual, performance and musical artists who all work in Northampton restaurants. There will be appetizers, drinks, and announcements from the PVWC leadership team about exciting campaigns that we are launching this fall! This event showcases the many talents of the workers who fuel the day to day of our downtown restaurant scene. These restaurant workers are parents, immigrants, artists, musicians, students and much more. Come show your support for them and learn about ongoing ways that we can grow a just and sustainable local food system that works for everyone!Click here to RSVP
THE HAND THAT FEEDS is an inspiring and uplifting "David & Goliath story" featuring sandwich makers, business owners, organizers, and Occupy Wall Street activists. At a popular bakery café, residents of New York’s Upper East Side get bagels and coffee served with a smile 24 hours a day. But behind the scenes, undocumented immigrant workers face sub-legal wages, dangerous machinery, and abusive managers who will fire them for calling in sick. Mild-mannered sandwich maker Mahoma López has never been interested in politics, but in January 2012, he convinces a small group of his co-workers to fight back.Risking deportation and the loss of their livelihood, the workers team up with a diverse crew of innovative young organizers and take the unusual step of forming their own independent union, launching themselves on a journey that will test the limits of their resolve. After the film there will be a question and answer period with the filmmakers along with a lively panel of local workers who have stood up and won in their workplaces.Buy Your Tickets Today!
Please join us for a conversation and panel with the author of Labor and the Locavore, Margaret Grey. The panel will include the author, food system worker activists, and local food system researchers. An analysis that can be applied to local food concerns around the country, this book challenges the reader to consider how the mentality of the alternative food movements implies a comprehensive food ethic that addresses worker's concerns.Click Here to RSVP!
The Pioneer Valley Workers Center gets our funding from a variety of places, but 1/3 comes from YOU! We rely heavily on the donations of hardworking people to make sure that organizing takes place, workers are listened to, and action is taken. Your monthly contribution ensures that PVWC will continue to build a stronger movement.
Pioneer Valley Workers Center is in its first year of existence. We formed because there is a great need in our region for a center that brings together food chain workers, “high road” employers, and concerned community members to make sure our local food system benefits everyone.
We were so moved with the support and the powerful testimonies of workers that brought some of us to tears. Worker's voices were heard at the press conference this week! Thank you!http://www.gazettenet.com/News/Local/Northampton-restaurant-workers-add-stories-to-report-s-statistics-1392991
Nearly all of the workers surveyed -- 96 percent -- reported that they did not have access to paid sick and vacation days, while 94 percent did not receive health insurance from their employers. "As we watch other jobs in the country being off-shored and taken away, service jobs are more and more important," Terry Masterson, Northampton's economic development director said. "They're real jobs, not just transitional."
That fight for fair pay isn’t just with legislators, says Rose Bookbinder — it’s often with the employers themselves. “It’s great that we have wage laws on the books, but if workers don’t know about the laws, and employers don’t enforce them, then the law is irrelevant,” says Bookbinder, who works with the Northampton-based Pioneer Valley Workers Center to combat wage theft. The center is currently focusing on organizing low-wage and immigrant workers in local farm and restaurant jobs. “The wage is just one part of making these jobs sustainable,” she says. “A lot of employers follow the law, but it’s in the low-wage sectors that you see the most non-compliance. Many restaurants don’t follow basic minimum wage laws at all.”
We received some great coverage in the Gazette today! Adam Dunetz, co-owner of the Roost and Green Bean restaurants in Northampton, said he welcomes increased enforcement of wage and hour laws. “It makes me sure that I’m staying within the lines,” he said. “It helps me make sure I’m doing the job that I’m supposed to be doing — I don’t mind that oversight. It doesn’t scare me.”
To build power for low-wage, and immigrant workers in Western Massachusetts. Through innovative and creative worker-driven organizing strategies, the Center unites community allies to win real change in the lives of working families and our communities.
Our diverse staff, interns and advisory board bring tremendous experience and expertise to our work and our communities.
The James House 42 Gothic St, 1st Fl Northampton, MA 01060
Mon - Wed: 9am-4pm Thurs - Fri: By Appointment