Brandworkers is a non-profit organization bringing local food production workers together for good jobs and a sustainable food system.
Brandworkers was founded in 2007 by retail and food employees who identified a need for an organization dedicated to protecting and advancing their rights. The organization was launched based on a simple principle: that working people themselves, equipped with powerful social change tools, were uniquely positioned to make positive change on the job and in society.
By empowering retail and food employees with social change tools, Brandworkers' Focus on the Food Chain and Legal Defense-Plus programs have recovered close to $1 million in unpaid wages and compensation for discrimination; improved working conditions for hundreds of workers; and have helped workers develop as powerful social change leaders.
Brandworkers' singular dedication to worker-led change quickly led to critical acclaim. In 2009, Brandworkers received the Union Square Award for its commitment to grassroots activism. The following year, the North Star Fund honored Brandworkers with its Frederick Douglass Award for furthering racial and economic justice.
Brandworkers has also been influential in the broader movement for worker justice. The organization is a founding member of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, the first-ever coalition of food worker organizing groups across the supply chain, from farm to plate. Brandworkers helped convene May Day United, a network of over 60 worker centers, unions, and community groups dedicated to increasing power and participation in May 1st actions and beyond. Finally, the organization helped initiate the Immigrant Worker Justice group of Occupy Wall Street to increase recognition of immigrant workers within the 99% and to challenge the role of Wall Street in the wage theft epidemic and private immigration prisons.
- Selection of press coverage on Focus on the Food Chain:
- Food Industry: Promise, Problems, Crain's NY
- Immigrants win $470,000 settlement for wage fight from Pur Pac, major Chinese restaurant supplier, NY Daily News
- Kosher cheese giant Tnuva drops Brooklyn distributor Flaum accused of underpaying employees, NY Daily News
- Wild Edibles Settles With Workers’ Group Pushing Boycott, NY Times
Focus on the Food Chain
Brandworkers' Focus on the Food Chain program is a member-led campaign to create good local jobs and a sustainable food system in New York City. Focus on the Food Chain helps recent immigrant workers challenge and overcome sweatshop conditions in the food processing factories and distribution warehouses that supply the City's food retailers. Through grassroots organizing, advocacy, and legal actions, Focus members are winning workplace justice campaigns and building a powerful base of leaders to create a sustainable food system in New York. Focus on the Food Chain is carried out jointly with the Industrial Workers of the World (New York City).