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Los Angeles Black Worker Center Names SEIU Organizer as Co-Director of Organizing and Programs
The Grassroots Organization Celebrates Ten Years of Black Worker Organizing and Looks Ahead to the Next Era of Leadership
APRIL 1, 2019: Los Angeles, Calif.—Today the Los Angeles Black Worker Center (LABWC) named SEIU Organizing Coordinator Janel Bailey as the Co-Executive Director of Organizing and Programs. Janel, who has ten years of community organizing experience, will join La Tonya Harris, who stepped in to the role of Co-Executive Director of Operations and Finance in December 2018.
The L.A. Black Worker Center is a hub for Black leadership and for understanding Black economic and social justice solutions. This year, the L.A. Black Worker Center celebrates ten years of community-based organizing to cultivate, shape, and advance a movement for and by the Black worker; the new co-directorship marks a commitment to all that community-based leadership can achieve.
“This work to center Black worker voices and their power as the primary way to address root causes and systems change cannot and has not happened by one person; there’s always been a community wrapped around and throughout the organization,” said Co-Founder and Founding Director Lola Smallwood Cuevas. “As we look ahead to the next ten years, and beyond, it’s our duty to ensure we have the leadership model we need to continue to protect and defend Black workers so that they, along with the families and communities that rely on them, thrive.”
In this next phase of growth and impact, Bailey and Harris will share leadership responsibilities to advance the vision of the L.A. Black Worker Center by ensuring the overall success and effectiveness of the organization. While Harris continues to lead effective administration and operation of the organization, Bailey will lead the work to build Black worker power and strong durable coalitions.
“I’ve been fortunate to experience richly diverse organizing with community groups, unions, worker centers, and faith organizations,” said Bailey. “It’s truly an honor to share my experience, vision, and skills to advance the L.A. Black Worker Center as Co-Executive Director of Organizing and Programs in this new era of activism and optimism to uplift Black communities and Black workers.”
Prior to joining the L.A. Black Worker Center, Bailey canvassed Chicago neighborhoods to build a base of people to address over-policing in housing, and helped to establish the Chicago Black Worker Center’s first membership. Bailey—who later served on the Board of the Chicago Black Worker Center’s sister Center for Racial & Gender Equity—was an Organizing Coordinator with the SEIU based in Chicago and is a National Trainer for Jobs with Justice, a L.A. Black Worker Center partner. At both the SEIU and Jobs with Justice, Bailey organized to build worker power to raise standards in industries, and facilitated and witnessed organizers’ leadership development and victories. Together, they organized alongside Black workers to reclaim more than $100,000 in stolen wages and to win union contracts for hundreds of workers in Chicagoland and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“There is a new sense of power of the people that challenges all of us to address the state of racial and economic justice with innovative tools and fresh ideas,” said Harris. “We’re so honored and excited for Janel to pick up the baton of resistance and change for Black workers in L.A.; when we lift Black workers we lift all workers.”
With the SEIU, Janel convened a bargaining committee of young, Black workers who led and won the unprecedented campaign to build the first industry-wide security officers’ union in downtown Milwaukee. Janel will bring her vision, strategy, and creativity to L.A. Black Worker Center campaigns and initiatives that currently focus on transforming the way employment discrimination is handled in the state by expanding local enforcement protections at the neighborhood level.
“This is an exciting time for new leadership to join the Board, staff, and members in continuing the fight for justice and equity for Black workers in Los Angeles,” said Chair of the Board of Directors Regina Freer.
Before joining LABWC, Bailey also worked as a National Organizer for Interfaith Worker Justice. She has a B.A. in Gender & Women's Studies from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.
ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES BLACK WORKER CENTER
The Los Angeles Black Worker Center is a dynamic table of workers, organized labor, community-based organizations, clergy, students, and scholars working collectively to improve the position of Black working class people.