The New York Worker Center Federation is an autonomous multiracial movement of workers and immigrants organizing across sectors and issues to build the power of the people whose labor fuels this city. Through Freedom Cities, the WCF aims to center directly impacted communities in the fight against the Trump administration, leading the movement to create safe communities where everyone can thrive.
The New York Workers Center Federation (WCF) began with a year long series of trainings for worker leaders to build the capacity of worker centers. During the training the stories of individual workers and organizations began to tell the narrative of a powerful emerging movement. Over the course of 4 trainings in 2014, nearly 90 immigrant workers from 7 centers connected over their stories of their migration, learned new organizing strategies to gain power in their workplace, and developed strategies around collective issues. One Bangladeshi cab driver responded to the story of an Ecuadorian day laborer, “I realize for the first time, we have the same story- so yes, we have the same struggle.” These deep connections do not come out of rapid joint actions or short convenings. The trainings brought workers to realize their power came from shared unity and vision. During the second training, worker centers saw the potential to create a continuous space for leadership development and joint campaign work. Thus, October 14, 2014 marked the official founding of the New York Workers Center Federation to build the capacity and power of worker centers through leadership trainings and joint campaigning.
We believe that by building multiracial immigrant and worker leadership, WCF can serve as a hub for innovative ideas to inspire and reinvigorate the mainstream labor movement. WCF strengthens member organizations by creating a leadership pipeline for the next generation of worker leaders that can lead campaigns and be the voice for the worker rights movement.
Street Vendor Project, El Centro del Inmigrante, New Immigrant Community Empowerment, Cidadao Global, Laundry Workers Center, DRUM, ROC NY, New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Retail Action Project, and Enlace.
What we do:
Like a body, each our projects and programs helps build more powerful leaders, stronger organizations, and a more united movement.
- Head: The steering committee, led by our alumni and members representatives, meets monthly to guide our process and strategize on how to power our movement forward
- Hand: Our flagship program, the Delfino Leadership Institute, is a year long leadership development program, where a cohort of up to 5 leaders from each organization and key organizers work building resilience, resources, and connections to strengthen themselves and their movements.
- Heart: Our joint projects, like our base-building project, help build the capacity of our organizations and increase support from within, while our joint actions, like the May 1st March and attending each other’s events, increase visibility and unity. Through this work, begin create an alternative vision about what an organic, dynamic, and truly worker-led labor movement could look like.
Delfino Leadership Institute
We have reached a critical point in our organizing. This is the time of great struggle, like the loss of one of our compañeros, Delfino Velazquez, who was killed in 2014 doing construction work, by a contractor who did not take precautions for his workers safety. Our health and safety are at risk, our salaries are being robbed, our immigration status is insecure, our family’s needs are great… but our dreams are even greater. That is why, this is also the time of great victories, like the Hot & Crusty campaign, where workers formed their own union and took back power. It is the time for our leadership and our power.
People follow leaders because they are inspired by their presence and power. A strong leader, who understands his or her own power, can build trust quickly and inspire others to higher levels of collaboration and action.
The New York Workers Center Federation is a collaboration between Street Vendor Project, El Centro del Inmigrante, New Immigrant Community Empowerment, Cidadao Global, Laundry Workers Center, DRUM, ROC NY, New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Retail Action Project, and Enlace to build the capacity and power of worker centers through leadership trainings and joint campaigning. The Delfino Leadership Institute (DLI) is a prestigious 1 year leadership program where worker leaders develop their organizing skills and movement leadership. DLI was launched in 2015 with a cohort of over 30 workers, the program includes 4 training sessions and activities in between sessions.
DLI is an intensive training in developing workers as a leader. Participants will learn the best qualities of organizing and base building, creating structures of new leaders, planning and leading campaigns, developing groups and management skills, facilitating trainings. Workers learn to value, motivate, and bring out the best in themselves and the people with whom they work with.
The Delfino Leadership Institute intentionally incorporates four levels to create real transformation. These areas are: the Personal, Organizational, Community, and Society.