ICWJ’s structure is centered around our Leadership Development Program. This Program focuses on engaging low-wage workers in a constant cycle of reflection and action, and includes:
- Outreach. Worker members and staff lead presentations in the community and flyer in low-wage neighborhoods to educate workers about their basic workplace rights and to invite new workers into the Center. We have established relationships with dozens of social service organizations and churches who refer workers to the Center. Over the past two years we have directly communicated with over 1,500 low-wage workers to invite them into the Center.
- Orientation meetings. New low-wage workers who come to the Center with problems in the workplace come to one of four Orientation meetings held each month in Minneapolis in St. Paul. In these meetings we engage workers in discussions about workplace rights, organizing, and building power for low-wage workers. If workers are interested in partnering with us, they commit to supporting at least two other workers’ struggles, and coming to a Campaign Committee meeting the following week. Over the past two years we have engaged over 600 low-wage workers in Orientation meetings.
- Campaign Committee meetings. Workers who have come through an Orientation meeting come to one of four Campaign Committee meetings held each month. In these meetings, workers and staff work together to analyze the specific problems each person is facing in their workplace and develop a campaign (identifying goals and targets, discussing tactics, and building an escalation plan) to overcome those problems. Over the past two years, we have engaged over 250 low-wage workers in campaigns to recover close to half a million dollars in unpaid wages.
- Popular Education meetings. Once a month ICWJ holds Popular Education meetings that are open to all low-wage workers in the metro area. In these meetings we analyze various topics including: historical struggles for justice (the Civil Rights Movement, labor struggles in the 1880s, etc.); current struggles for justice in other parts of the country (the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Young Workers United, etc.); current social, political and economic events (globalization, immigration policy, gender in the workplace, etc.); and concrete organizing skill trainings (mapping the workplace, 1-1 trainings, etc). With each of these topics, our goal is to learn from our own experiences and from the experiences of others in order to continue developing our own organizing capacity with ICWJ. Over the past two years, over 150 low-wage workers have participated in Popular Education meetings with ICWJ.
- Membership. Workers who have participated in at least 3 meetings and/or actions with the Center can become members. Members get a membership ID card, have access to the computer room, and have access to free legal advice. Members also have the responsibility to pay $10 for the ID card, pay $5 dues each month if they are working, and stay actively involved in the organization by coming to meetings and actions. Twice a year there are membership meetings to make major decisions about the future of the organization. Our goal is to have 100 members by December 2009 and 200 members by December 2010.
- Committees. Staff and active worker members invite new workers who have shown commitment through their involvement in the Center into concrete roles with the organization our committee structure, including the Outreach Committee, the Cleaning Campaign Committee and the Internal Education Committee. These committees meet once per month and focus both on gaining concrete skills in organizing (how to speak in public, facilitation skills, how to speak with press, etc.) as well as the immediate tasks of each committee.
- Mesa Organizadora. Staff and members of the Mesa Organizadora invite the most active members of the organization to join the Mesa Organizadora. The Mesa Organizadora meets once a month to make decisions about the future of the organization, and to further develop leadership and organizing skills. This is the group that made the decision about forming a membership, and separating from WIN. Currently there are 10 members of the Mesa Organizadora.