The goal of the LIFT Fund is to contribute to revitalizing the labor movement through support for worker organizing at the intersection of collaboration and innovation. The Fund aims to support innovative work that strengthens and reinvigorates a movement for workers rights, decent jobs, and a fair economy for the 21st century. LIFT will continue to provide a space where philanthropy, unions, academia, and community partners can strategize together, engage in authentic conversations on critical issues, and provide opportunities for learning. By creating these opportunities, the LIFT Fund will increase collaborative learning and broaden capacities among funders and grantees, fostering a more robust field of non-traditional worker organizing and protection of labor rights. Funding support is given to organizations developing innovative solutions in the following four key areas:
New Forms of Collective Bargaining – As big bargaining units are shrinking and both ownership structures and employee legal statuses have become more complex and fragmented, worker centers have been successful at organizing critical masses of workers in smaller workplaces. But existing labor law limits how these workers can build relationships of accountability with their employers, including collective bargaining agreements. Unions and worker centers are collaborating on campaigns to promote change in regional labor laws as well as exploring new enforcement and agreement models. This includes moving strategies that set standards and improve labor market conditions for large numbers of workers in key sectors.
New Organizational Forms and Membership Models – As the workplace and the nature of work changes, organizations need to adapt to meet new economic and political conditions. The place to build solidarity and organization is moving away from the physical workplace and into the community at: schools, homes, parks, and street corners. LIFT Fund partners are experimenting with new ways to organize workers into permanent organizations that allow for powerful expressions of solidarity, as well as to eventually win advances for the worker justice movement.
New Paths for Workforce Development – Collaborations between workers centers and unions are innovating with new approaches that create access to quality training programs for traditionally excluded workers, including union apprenticeship programs that also create on ramps to membership and engagement in permanent worker organizations. LIFT Fund grantees are exploring new pathways by raising community recognition of the importance of these programs, providing increased union contact with and responsiveness to the changing demographics of the workforce, dismantling occupational segregation, and creating more opportunity for and enforcement of local hiring.
Enforcement of Labor Standards – Increasingly, worker centers and unions are creating new strategies to improve and enforce wage and hour, health and safety and other key labor laws within growing sectors and in strategic local labor markets. Campaigns are focused on rooting out low road business practices and improving standards industry wide. Co-production of enforcement aims to create new opportunities for building worker power, ensuring that workers and worker organizations play an essential role in the implementation of key labor laws. In some cases, new employer responsibilities (i.e. putting up a bond to ensure wage theft claims will be paid) have been created. In other cases, new strategies for revenue generation and sustainability are also being explored.