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Worker’s Justice Project Gives Voice, Empowers Low-Wage Laborers

In the News

Katey St. John

[Originally Published in BK Reader]

In a city where immigrant workers face serious economic and employment issues— wage theft, safety concerns, language barriers— Brooklyn non-profit Worker’s Justice Project provides them the resources they need to unionize and make a difference in their workplace.

“WJP went from creating a safe space for workers to talk about these issues, to actually creating a space where workers can mobilize and organize,” said WJP’s co-founder and executive director Ligia Guallpa.

Although low-wage and immigrant workers encompass many industries within the city, WJP focuses on three specific workforces: construction, cleaning, and, most recently, food app delivery.

“Delivery work happened to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the city, more than dozens of workers were dying on the streets,. Workers were treated as disposable labor” Ligia Guallpa, WJP’s co-founder and executive director

“At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is make sure we strengthen the labor movement,” Guallpa said.

At its center in South Williamsburg, WJP offers professional development and leadership workshops, OSHA training, English classes and more. The nonprofit also brings workers together to discuss issues in their workplaces, and organize protests and marches to improve conditions.

In October of 2020, app delivery workers involved with WJP organized one of the largest marches ever to demand protections and higher wages. Then again in April of 2022, these laborers organized another march, this time with over 5,000 participants.

“Delivery work happened to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the city, more than dozens of workers were dying on the streets,” Guallpa said. “Workers were treated as disposable labor”

From these efforts came real, systemic change. On April 1, 2024, Mayor Eric Adams announced that food delivery apps must pay their delivery workers a minimum wage of at least $19.56 per hour in New York City.

“Even though this is a historic, landmark, legislation and victory, we know that the fight is not over,” Guallpa said. “We are fighting multi billion-dollar corporations who would continue to find ways to exploit workers and keep on doing business in the city of New York without having to offer any labor protections.”

This article was made possible through the generous support of Brooklyn Org, allowing us to bring you in-depth coverage of local non-profits working to empower Brooklyn communities. This non-profit organization and others will be featured in Brooklyn Org’s Show Brooklyn Some Love PSA campaign throughout June at sites across Brooklyn.