By Corinna Spencer-Scheurich, NWJP Deputy Director
This April, NWJP celebrated 9 years of organizing the Low Wage Worker Legal Network (LWWLN) by hosting its monthly nationwide training call. With 375 members from 135 organizations and 30 private law firms from 34 states, DC and Mexico, LWWLN connects low-wage and contingent worker advocates across the country to facilitate joint training and spark coordinated policy advocacy.
For example, the April training session featured best practices for transferring money to clients in Mexico and was presented by Global Workers Justice Alliance, Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, and Immigrant Justice Clinic at American University Washington College of Law. Finding secure, ethical, and cost-effective ways of transferring money to foreign countries is critical for advocates representing immigrant workers, but the issue is rarely (if ever) addressed by traditional continuing legal education.
Our June training call (next Wednesday, June 1st) will focus on trauma-informed care and considerations for interviewing and supporting our clients who have experienced sexual harassment and assault in employment. Mónica Ramírez, Director of Gender Equity and Advocacy at National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, and Kimber Nicoletti, Director and Founder of Multicultural Efforts to End Sexual Assault at Purdue University, will be with us to talk about these important issues.
LWWLN was founded to help improve access to justice for low-wage workers by uniting attorneys and advocates in a variety of programs and projects nationwide around workers’ rights issues. Members of LWWLN generally come from small nonprofit workers’ rights organizations, small firms, and solo practices. All represent solely workers in employment matters. By coming together regularly, LWWLN members help each other improve legal skills, support each other in the challenges of these types of cases, and stay on the cutting edge of relevant legal theories and methods.
April’s training was just one of nearly 80 monthly training calls that LWWLN has held over the years. In these one-hour sessions, national experts offer advocates cutting-edge and essential legal tools for representing our most vulnerable workers. In addition, connections through LWWLN have helped catalyze workgroups to address national legal and policy challenges that individual organizations or firms may not otherwise have the resources to tackle alone.
One example covered regularly in NWJP’s newsletters is the H-2B foreign temporary worker visa workgroup. Through an extensive multi-year strategy of litigation and policy advocacy, the workgroup beat back Bush-era regulations that allowed H-2B employers to hire temporary foreign workers at wages far lower than the wages received by their U.S. counterparts and reduced the exploitation of both temporary foreign workers and the U.S. workers who are often displaced. A workgroup on J-1 exchange visitor visas works to stop the exploitation of workers who come to the U.S. on this visa program, supposedly for educational and cultural exchange purposes, but often find themselves entrapped in exploitive employment situations. And, a workgroup on wage judgments works to strengthen collection laws across the country for low wage workers who have won their cases but have difficulty collecting their judgments.
If you are interested in becoming a member of LWWLN or have an expertise that you would like to share, please contact Corinna Spencer-Scheurich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Members also have access to a resource bank of recordings and resources from past training calls.