In 2000, the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin launched a study of actual workplace conditions in Dane County through the Latino Worker Project. The Latino Worker Project fact-finding delegation was a collaborative effort of faith community representatives, union leaders, workers, and local social service providers. The final published report, “Can’t Afford to Lose a Bad Job,” highlighted the difficulties and barriers these workers face. One of the recommendations of the delegation was the establishment of a Workers’ Rights Center to address the needs of low-wage and immigrant workers. The ICWJ recognized that many of the workplace problems that were identified affect all low-wage workers, regardless of ethnicity, and hired a full-time staff person to help fulfill this recommendation. Using resources and best practices from successful faith/labor initiatives around the country, the ICWJ researched and developed a plan for a local Workers’ Rights Center.
In 2007, after over four years of operating the Workers’ Rights Center, the ICWJ Board determined that it was time for the WRC to become a stand alone organization. A founding board was formed and the Workers’ Rights Center established itself as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The ICWJ and WRC still share office space and work closely on numerous campaigns, but now each is able to pursue its’ mission with a greater focus. The Workers’ Rights Center is a community center dedicated to educating and advocating for worker justice. The Center is committed to empowering workers.