What We're Reading: Alt-labor: What are workers’ rights nonprofits?

"As the New Year promises to bring many changes to the social sector and beyond, one thing remains unchanged and top of mind for many: the economic climate in the U.S. With high levels of inflation persisting and the possibility of a recession looming, many are predicting what 2023’s economy will mean for today’s workforce," said Guy Mika for Candid. "Unfortunately, there’s no crystal ball that can tell employees what to expect this year. However, we can revisit the topic of workers’ rights through a new lens by exploring the increasing role that a newer breed of labor organizations plays in the social sector."

"The unique and dynamic needs of such workers have given rise to a new form of labor organizations. Meet the growing 'alt-labor' movement: today’s emerging ecosystem comprised of the latest variety of workers’ rights organizations. Unlike 501(c)(5) labor unions, most alt-labor organizations are 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Thus, they cannot engage in collective bargaining on behalf of workers or formally organize legal strikes. Instead, they pursue a variety of other strategies centering on litigation, education, and industry-wide advocacy."

"For example, the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) undertook a six-year lobbying campaign in New York to pass better protections for domestic workers. Similarly, the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) has pursued a legal strategy of suing restaurant owners for wage violations and used the legal settlement process as an opportunity to negotiate additional rights for workers."

"While alt-labor nonprofits have secured an ever-growing presence in the workers’ rights movement, it’s too early to say if support for these workers’ rights organizations will continue to expand. The pandemic highlighted the importance of essential workers, and public support for unions reached an all-time high since the 1960s."

"But for now, our Magic 8 Ball™ responds with, 'Ask again later,' to the question of whether the alt-labor movement will continue to build on its early momentum and further influence the future of labor organizing and advocacy. In the meantime, Candid will continue to collect data and track the role workers’ rights organizations play in the social sector and the economy at large."

Read the full article here.