“Chicago Community and Workers’ Rights: An Intervention to Precarious Work in Little Village” – Journie Raulston
Author: Journie Raulston
Department: UIC Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement
Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE
As work environments in the United States shift from standard to non-standard forms of employment, precarious employment becomes increasingly abundant. Residents of Little Village, a predominantly low-income Hispanic community in Chicago, face high amounts of precarious and exploitative work in their community. Chicago Community and Workers’ Rights (CCWR) is a community-based and community-led organization known as a worker center that engages in a combination of service, advocacy, and organizing to provide support to low-wage workers throughout the Chicagoland area. This research explores the experiences that residents of Little Village have with precarious working conditions including wage theft and occupational injury, how CCWR acts as an intervention to those conditions, and how residents perceive their health has been impacted as a result of utilizing a worker center. This research uses a qualitative case study approach to investigate worker centers’ effectiveness as an intervention to precarious work, with Chicago Community and Workers Rights as the case. Findings from this research are that disadvantaged individuals are likely to experience work that is exploitative and discriminatory. Consequences of this are severe mental and physical health impacts including stress, chronic injury, and lack of sleep. This study suggests that while a well-intentioned policy can be an effective tool in shifting the culture of a community, the implementation and enforcement of a policy is a more accurate indicator of its effectiveness. To resolve these issues, there should be more severe consequences for employers who violate existing occupational policies, and more resources and organizations, like Chicago Community and Workers Rights, that uplift marginalized communities to advocate for their rights.
Keywords: Little Village; workers’ rights; precarious work; employment shifts