from 2000 to 2015, An Update and Evaluation
What is the Latino Workers Project?
Fifteen years ago, the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice (ICWJ) initiated the Latino Workers Project (LWP) to study the rapidly growing Latino population in Dane County and to address challenges faced by low-income Latino immigrants. The LWP interviewed workers, conducted door-to-door surveys, held community forums and reviewed available data. A fact-finding delegation comprised of leaders from different faiths, unions, and the Latino community reviewed and analyzed the findings. Both qualitative and quantitative data was collected to bring to light the problems that this often marginalized population was facing in the workforce. The LWP released a report, Can’t Afford to Lose a Bad Job, which documented the socio-economic and labor conditions of the Latino community and provided recommendations to address the most pressing issues. You can view the report HERE. Latino immigrants faced unique challenges because of issues of immigration status, discrimination and racism, lack of knowledge/comfort navigating public agencies and limited English proficiency. One of the recommendations that came out of that effort was the formation of the Workers’ Rights Center (WRC).
Why Update the Latino Workers Project Report?
While much has changed in the past fifteen years, many of the original issues either remain or have worsened. The Latino population in Dane county has more than doubling since 2000. The Latino poverty rate in Wisconsin has increased significantly (28%). Unemployment for Latinos is 1-1/2 times the rate of the total Wisconsin population. With the Latino population growing, job opportunities shrinking, and hard data lacking, the need for a re-evaluation is greater than ever. The project will give voice to thousands of immigrants who are struggling in low-wage and unstable employment and will serve as a platform for further action going forward. The WRC will work in partnership with our many community allies: the ICWJ, religious congregations, labor unions, City, County and State agencies, community organizations and higher education.
Since the first report was issued, the Latino community in Dane County has doubled again and while some progress has been made and services are more widely available, many of the barriers and roadblocks remain. A clear eyed analysis of the challenges that remain and the steps necessary to address them will be essential for Dane County to fully benefit from this growing community’s promise. The issue of immigration reform is very timely and Dane County has an opportunity play a leadership role in this debate. Information gathered will assist community organizations and government in allocating scarce resources to the most pressing problems faced by Latino immigrants. By engaging with the broad and varied constituencies involved with the Latino community and mobilizing a coordinated and thoughtful response, we put ourselves in a position to help our community reach its full potential.
What are the Goals of the Latino Workers Project Report Update?
The Latino Workers Project has produced a report that updates the socioeconomic and labor conditions of the Latino immigrants in Dane County. We interviewed workers, and conducted door-to-door surveys in order to have a better understanding of the challenges faced by Latino workers living in Dane County. The Latino Workers Project organized a fact-finding delegation comprised of leaders from different faiths, union leaders, and leaders from the Latino community. This group shared their knowledge of the community and organized public hearings during the spring and summer, where they heard testimony from immigrant workers and representatives of organizations that work closely with immigrant Latinos. The conclusions of the research, the findings of the delegation, and the recommendations were published in a final report, Struggling for a Better Life on March 3, 2016. Read the report HERE. En Español AQUI
How to Get Involved
If you are interested in volunteering to help out with the Latino Workers Project or want to learn more, contact the Workers’ Rights Center at 608-255-0376.