FCWA’s Member Organizer Program supports a cohort of organizers and senior worker leaders anchored in our member organizations. Fellows receive funding to spend one day per week working on organizing projects important to their organization or sector. Over a period of 8 months, they convene monthly for peer learning, and receive support from FCWA to develop their projects. We are very proud to present our inaugural cohort of 2021-2022 FCWA Member Organizer Fellows:
Helen Abraha: I am a first-generation Eritrean American, currently working as an Organizer and Research Coordinator at the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Washington DC (ROC-DC). I got involved with ROC-DC in 2018 after seeking support on a workers compensation case. I began “dipping my toe” into student organizing while pursuing a BA in Sociology at American University. Alongside classmates, I was outspoken about AU’s inability to condemn racism on campus, and demanded widespread education for all staff, professors, and students on systemic racism and institutional violence. I feel empowered by the community solidarity and change making. My dream is to be the first in my family to receive a Doctorate degree and go back home to Eritrea to offer support in the social and economic development of my country. Throughout this program, I have been working with ROC LA and ROC MN chapters to learn how to take on wage theft cases, create storytelling workshops for workers, and build relationships with the community in my city.
Tracey-Ann Hines: I am married and a mother of my five-year-old son. I have been a member of Justicia for Migrant Workers for the past 7 years, and have been active in community forums and panel discussions. I participated in meetings of the Changing Workplace Review, and took part in press conferences to convey to the public the reforms that are needed to help vulnerable workers in Ontario. I also advocated for rights in the workplaces to settle important workplace issues, and have been active in the fight for justice for injured workers. For the past 6 months I have been a part of the amazing training program with FCWA, where I am currently working on my project to create a safe house for injured workers where they can have a safe place to stay and receive treatment. There is a lack of protection for migrant workers when they are injured they are left alone to weather the storm. I am passionate about this project because I too was injured and didn’t have a relative to stay with to finish my treatments after my work contract ended.
Jorge Fernando Lopez Mendez: I was born in Puerto Amelia, between Brazil and Peru, and currently live in Cincinnati. I’ve been a member of the Cincinnati Interfaith Worker Center since 2012, and I am currently the vice president of the board of directors. Previously, I worked at the Peruvian Telephone Company for 20 years. Through the union in this company, I learned that people and workers have rights and that the union is everyone and that we must always be organized and have solidarity to achieve victories. In 2013, I founded Cablecitotv, a social media platform with the vision to lift up videos of our struggles. There are many people who fight for the community, and Cablecitotv shares their voices and has motivated many people to not give up on their dreams. What drives me is addressing the injustices workers face when they suffer accidents at work. Instead of supporting workers and ensuring they have protection and medical attention, many companies fire workers after a workplace accident. When a worker is fired, they lose their access to healthcare. As part of this program, I am documenting testimonies of workers who got injured. We will use these stories to ensure workers know their rights and to fight for justice for all injured workers.
Eyasu Shumie: I was most recently a Food Supply Chain Organizer with Warehouse Workers for Justice. Originally from Las Vegas, I moved to Chicago last summer to work towards building worker power in one of the largest logistics and transportation hubs in the world. Coming from a family of immigrants, I am passionate about building on the bonds that people share and helping bring people together in order to fight for better working conditions and wages. For this project, I am using EGIS mapping as a main resource to map warehouses in the Chicago area. My project focuses on demystifying the confusing web of logistics companies, staffing agencies, and warehousing companies within the food system, and developing worker-led campaigns which collaboratively use organic worker power, media campaigns, and community support to help leverage worker demands into actionable change.