Read this new article by Kesi Foster, Co-Executive Director at Partners for Dignity & Rights, and Philippa Rizopoulos, One World Fund Fellow at Partners for Dignity & Rights, in Nonprofit Quarterly.
A James Beard Award-winning restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown was abusing its staff, forcing them to work brutal hours, and stealing enormous sums through wage theft for years. For too long, city agencies failed to protect those workers. So far, sadly, this is pretty much the standard account that you might find in any US city.
But then something different occurred. The Chinese Progressive Association—in coalition with other groups, including the Asian Law Caucus—not only helped workers take a stand, but they leveraged a “co-governance” arrangement with the city’s labor standards enforcement agency to secure a record-breaking settlement of over $4 million on behalf of 280 workers on back wages that they were owed. As our organization, Partners for Dignity & Rights, noted in a recent report co-published with Race Forward, these Chinatown workers are part of a larger national trend of communities staking claim to a share of public authority.
The restaurant workers’ victory is just one example of how co-governance—that is, governing arrangements in which local authorities cede partial decision-making power to community residents and community-based groups—is making a difference in cities across the country…
Photo above courtesy of Chinese Progressive Association.