Grand Opening Primero de Mayo Worker’s Center
Every day, all over the world, people make one of the most difficult decisions in their lives: to leave their homes in search of a safer, better life.
Settling in and working towards achieving this better life is too often obstructed by barriers, ranging from discriminatory societies to exploitative working conditions. For societies that receive immigrants, studies consistently show that immigrants are a revitalizing force the brings prosperity and a diversity of culture.
Today in Minnesota, immigrants not only are facing these systemic barriers, but are also disproportionately affected by the health and economic effects of COVID-19. As the pandemic develops, studies show that Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities are most negatively impacted as a result of the pandemic, with African and Latinx communities at the top of this list. While these groups faced precarious economic disparities long before the arrival of the pandemic, the current health crisis has shone a light on how much these conditions have worsened.
For example, during the last twelve months in Minnesota, five out of ten Latinxs have filed for unemployment. It is clear to us at COPAL that no single organization has the capacity nor the resources to overcome such insurmountable task alone. Once the worst of the crisis has passed, thousands of Africans and Latinxs will still remain underemployed, requiring support in finding jobs, exploring new industries, seeking compensation from past employers, and building wealth.
All these factors have driven ACER and COPAL, two community-led organizations, to develop two Workers’ Centers based in Brooklyn Park and Minneapolis to address the immediate and long-term economic challenges of the African and Latinx communities. In the spirit of collaboration and solidarity, ACER and COPAL have been reaching out to Unions, community organizations, government agencies, as well as community leaders and individuals to shape and partner on this endeavor.
ACER is an issue-based community organization developing sustainable policy solutions that address concerns impacting the African community, creating access to education, jobs, health, housing, and the means to build wealth. www.acerinc.org
COPAL is a Latinx-led grassroots organization that creates communal democracy across several impact areas to build racial, gender, social and economic justice across community lines.
To help our neighbors weather this crisis, these Workers’ Centers will focus on connecting our communities to jobs and workforce trainings, educate and advocate for worker’s rights, and develop systems to support the equitable creation of wealth for individuals and small businesses. The Centers will be an ongoing resource to support people during the crisis, as well as to help people get back to work once the crisis has passed.