The Northwest Arkansas Workers' Justice Center (NWAWJC), established in 2002 in Springdale and Fayetteville, Ark., seeks to improve the wages, benefits, and working conditions of low-wage and immigrant workers. The grassroots workers' center achieves this through rights education, local and regional partnerships, and the empowerment of workers as effective advocates.
The only workers' center in all of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, NWAWJC offers vital support for local workers. In the poultry-processing, restaurant, and construction industries that dominate the area, workers are no stranger to wage theft, gender discrimination, and dangerous working conditions. NWAWJC operates in close proximity to Walmart, Tyson, and several poultry plants, and serves communities that have significant populations of Marshallese and Latino immigrants (many of whom are made especially vulnerable to labor abuse by their undocumented status).
UUSC has worked with NWAWJC to help create a number of programs to support its mission, such as a series of Know Your Rights seminars. UUSC also helped NWAWJC to strengthen outreach, education, leadership, and organizing of Latina women workers. As UUSC has supported NWAWJC in creating a strategic plan and updating their communications and technology infrastructure, NWAWJC has moved from individualized case management to leadership development, organizing, and statewide policy work.
NWAWJC has celebrated some major successes throughout the years. In 2010, Fayetteville Mayor Lionel Jordan made an official proclamation condemning wage theft as an illegal practice that causes irreparable harm to low-income workers and ethical businesses. That same year, NWAWJC entered into a collaboration with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to enhance workers' safety in high-risk jobs in construction and general industry.
One of the major projects on NWAWJC's current agenda is a poultry-plant organizing campaign that begins with research and base building. NWAWJC is also working with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and allies in Arkansas, with whom they recently founded the Northwest Arkansas Human and Civil Rights Coalition, to address civil rights violations such as police profiling of immigrants and other community members.
For a little NWAWJC history, check out the 2008 video above.