Organizing Low-Wage Workers

Organizing low-wage workers is part of the DNA of CHIRLA.

One of the pillars of the organization’s founding in 1986 was about stamping out discrimination against immigrant workers and sanctioning employers who abuse them. This was a direct response to passage in Congress of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which for the first time in history barred the hiring, recruiting and referral of undocumented workers.

But this law, far from reining in employers, fostered massive wage theft and exploitation of undocumented workers, pushing them further into the underground economy. Employers now had wide latitude to discriminate against workers perceived as undocumented, despite clear federal protections against such discrimination because of national origin, ancestry, culture, or language.

Today, CHIRLA is an established leader in organizing day laborers, street vendors, and domestic workers who do not benefit from federal labor laws. We help them connect with and enlist lawmakers in their struggle.

Timeline

  • Aug 5, 2020

    1989

    CHIRLA founds the country’s first day laborer center in Harbor City, California

  • Aug 5, 2020

    1991

    CHIRLA opens its second day laborer center in North Hollywood

  • Aug 5, 2020

    1991

    CHIRLA founds its Domestic Workers’ Committee and spearheads Super Doméstica, a worker education program

  • Aug 5, 2020

    2000

    Represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, CHIRLA wins the precedent-setting CHIRLA v. Los Angeles County, which affirms day laborers’ First Amendment right to communicate their willingness to take on work in the streets

  • Aug 5, 2020

    2000

    CHIRLA partners with KIWA, the Garment Worker Center, IDEPSCA and the Pilipino Worker Center to form the Multi-Ethnic Immigrant Worker Organizing Network (MIWON)

  • Aug 5, 2020

    2000

    MIWON on May 1 launches the Immigrant Worker Mobilization for Legalization and Worker Rights, the first May Day march. Workers march on May 1 every year thereafter

  • Aug 5, 2020

    2001

    CHIRLA and the Institute for Popular Education of Southern California (IDEPSCA) found the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)

  • Aug 5, 2020

    2006

    CHIRLA joins forces with other worker rights advocates as a founding member of the California Domestic Workers Coalition and the National Alliance of Domestic Workers

  • Aug 5, 2020

    2013

    CHIRLA helps pass the California Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights (AB541)

EMPLEO Assistance Line

In partnership with state and federal agencies, consulates and faith institutions, CHIRLA runs the EMPLEO (Employment, Education & Outreach) assistance line to provide Spanish-speaking workers the means to report wage theft, harassment and unsafe working conditions.

This coalition effort has distributed more than $10 million dollars in unpaid wages directly to workers.

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Our Campaigns

NDWA bill of rights national campaign

The National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights protects domestic workers and personal aides working in domestic settings in California. It improves working conditions for domestic workers and the care they give their charges.

Salarios Justos/Hogares Limpios

Aims to transform the domestic workers’ industry by informing workers of their rights under labor laws to achieve decent working conditions together with partners and employers.