The Stand

Casa Latina staff among wave of non-profits to unionize

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SEATTLE (April 21, 2021) — Casa Latina is a vibrant immigrant worker rights organization that empowers low-wage Latino immigrant workers to move from economic insecurity to economic prosperity, and to participate fully in our democracy. The nonprofit social justice organization is an affiliate of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO (WSLC) and was the first “worker center” in the nation to affiliate with an AFL-CIO state federation.

And now Casa Latina’s 18-member staff has joined together in a union themselves and signed their first contract. The employees, who organized their union with Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 8, said their effort was partly inspired by witnessing the power of union solidarity at the WSLC.

“I am a domestic worker and I remember when I went to the WSLC conventions, I saw the power of all the unions together. That was awesome!” said Silvia Gonzalez, Casa Latina’s Women Without Borders Lead Coordinator, who served on the staff’s contract negotiating team. “Now being part of the OPEIU Local 8 union makes me feel proud, knowing that there is someone who can support us and stand up for us is great. I appreciate all the support from union staff, also the directors of Casa Latina since they have always been in favor of unions. Now I can go to the WSLC conventions, as part of a union!”

Casa Latina staff meeting with their union rep when they signed their contract.

Marcos Martinez, Casa Latina Executive Director, serves on the WSLC Executive Board and represents the interests of worker centers and the communities for whom they advocate.

“Casa Latina has defended immigrant workers’ rights since its founding in 1994, and became an affiliate of the MLK Labor Council and the WSLC almost 10 years ago,” Martinez said. “Now we can say we are a proud union employer, and with our first contract we’re entering a strong partnership with Casa Latina staff and with OPEIU Local 8.”

There has been a wave of non-profit advocacy organizations whose employees have joined together in unions recently. At OPEIU 8 in Seattle, that has included the staffs of Crisis Connections and YouthCare, among others.

OPEIU Local 8 is a progressive, democratically run union working for social and economic justice since 1945. Local 8 represents more than 7,000 members all over Washington state working in many settings including offices, health and home care, housing, social services, the insurance industry, legal services and the public sector. Social service workers are some of the hardest-working, lowest-paid and most essential members of our community, which is why OPEIU Local 8 is proud to represent workers at prominent Washington state nonprofits such as Solid Ground, Plymouth Housing, Low Income Housing Institute, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Northwest Justice Project, and many others.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Want your voice heard at work? Get more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a voice on the job and a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

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