Rochester is the United States’ 5th poorest city according to the US Census Bureau. More than 65,000 Rochesterians live below the federal poverty line, almost half are children. In contrast, the Rochester’s rate of unemployment continues to decline, keeping ahead of the national average. Rochester is working hard, but in a city of poverty wages.
In order to survive, many Rochesterians work two or even three jobs. Sometimes they do so without being able to leave the need for various forms of public assistance. They are left with little time to help children with homework and less money to spend in the local economy. This struggle set the stage for future communal deficit.
Wage theft, workplace unsafe conditions, discrimination, sexual harassment, and tax misclassification, among other things, are also prevalent in poverty wage industries. Employers who choose to violate standards, create competitive pressure on law-abiding businesses to do the same. The current union structure, with only 6.9 % of the private sector unionized, government agencies understaffed and underfunded, and the traditional legal process with high costs and limited time leaves workers with little knowledge about their workplace rights and ways to assert them. A new approach is needed.
Rochester Workers' Center is a community-based, democratic, worker organization. It is a place where communities join together to defend their rights and build relationships. Our aim is to educate, empower, and unite.