Our History


Since its founding in 1987, Jobs with Justice has been winning campaigns that build power for working people; advancing a sustainable and powerful network of grassroots coalitions; supporting the growth and leadership of local leaders and activists; and developing strategic alliances nationally and globally that strengthen the movement for workers’ rights, economic justice, and our democracy.

On July 29, 1987, more than 11,000 individuals participated in the first ever Jobs with Justice convening in Miami and together recited the “Jobs with Justice Pledge.” The pledge commits each participant to be there at least five times a year for someone else’s fight, as well as their own.

Since then, over 100,000 individuals have signed the pledge in order to

  • Stand up for our rights as working people to a decent standard of living;
  • Support the rights of all workers to organize and bargain collectively;
  • Fight for secure family-wage jobs in the face of corporate attacks on working people and our communities;
  • Organize the unorganized to take aggressive action to secure a better economic future for all of us; and,
  • Mobilize those already organized to join the fight for jobs with justice.

The pledge highlights the organization and its network’s deep-rooted history and commitment toward organizing and direct action, promoting solidarity among members, and collectively working to win victories for workers everywhere.

Throughout our history we have taken action to stand with workers and communities to win workers’ rights and economic justice. We have experienced unprecedented attacks on the rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain, a crumbling health care system, job losses due to trade policy, and the growing exploitation of immigrant workers. From the beginning, Jobs with Justice coalitions worked on building resistance on all these fronts and linking the struggles around health care, immigrants’ rights, and global justice to the struggle for bargaining rights.

Our impact and pioneering campaigns and solidarity efforts over the years include:

  • Launching and co-anchoring national campaigns like Caring Across Generations, Change Walmart, Change the Economy, United Workers Congress, Debt-Free Future, and Protecting Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER).
  • Impacting millions of workers through our engagement in successful organizing and collective bargaining rights and other key community campaigns nationally and locally through our network to improve jobs and the economy, corporate accountability, health care, and immigrants’ rights.
  • Mobilizing our network to win Justice at Smithfield Foods, one of the most significant organizing and collective bargaining campaign victories, notably in right-to-work state of North Carolina, and in the South as a whole. In 2008, after a 14-year-campaign 5,500 low-income workers finally secured union representation with the UFCW at the world’s largest pork processing plant. We activated our entire network to support the fight to demonstrate that consumers across the Smithfield supply chain care about workers’ dignity, health, and organizing rights.
  • Playing a lead role in the Justice for Janitors campaign to help raise the standard of living for low-wage immigrant workers and communities. We helped move building owners and individual janitorial companies to come to the table to negotiate with a workforce they often refused to acknowledge, as well as mobilized community, faith, student, and political groups to take action in solidarity with janitors in myriad ways. Our National Workers’ Rights Board, Student Labor Action Project, and numerous local Jobs with Justice Committees came out of early engagement in this campaign.
  • Effectively responding to the economic crisis by educating and mobilizing workers, supporting unemployed Americans, advancing and winning state-level legislation, pushing for transparency and equity in economic recovery policies, and collaborating with allies to address the systemic aspects of the crisis.

Twenty-five years of Jobs With Justice records are now archived and cataloged at the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives at Cornell University!


Since its creation in 2003, the leading labor policy and advocacy organization, American Rights at Work played a critical role in bringing the right of workers to organize to the forefront of the national policy and progressive agenda. American Rights at Work conducted vital research, executed public education campaigns, expanded and broadened the media’s coverage of workers’ rights, and built coalitions to advance workers’ rights to form unions and bargain with their employers for fair wages, benefits, and working conditions.

American Rights at Work developed a solid reputation for:

  • Shaping the discourse and advancing public policies on workers’ rights issues; and
  • Building and mobilizing a community within and outside of the labor movement to further the right to organize.

Our accomplishments over the years include:

  • Injecting credible, influential voices in the media to reframe the debate on workers’ rights through more than 1,000 articles, op-eds, letters to the editor, and media appearances.
  • Releasing more than 50 original research reports and 75 fact sheets highlighting the inadequacy of U.S. labor law and need for reform; exposing well-financed campaigns of anti-union organizations and the unionbusting practices of corporations like Walmart, Verizon, T-Mobile, and FedEx Ground; and to showcase examples of more than 50 successful employers who engage in cooperative labor-management partnerships with employees and their unions.
  • Spearheading the creation and convening of more than 500 influential academics and scholars in the Labor Research and Action Network to advance cutting-edge research in support of organizing campaigns.
  • Coordinating labor movement allies to advance key labor law reform initiatives, including the campaign to enact the Employee Free Choice Act, and more recent efforts backing the NLRB to modernize union elections.
  • Developing hundreds of high-profile champions from every segment of the progressive community, and deploying them to write reports and op-eds, adopt resolutions, issue public statements, host briefings, and educate policymakers in support of workers’ rights initiatives.
  • Cultivating and mobilizing a powerful community of more than 150,000 activists to take more than 1,500,000 online actions to protest unionbusting, support workers’ organizing drives, and advocate for pro-worker policies.
  • Launching innovative public education initiatives, including the large-scale multimedia campaign to inject the real stories of America’s workers into the debate over labor law reform featuring dramatic building-scale banners, field events, media efforts, and a lobby day featuring “West Wing” actors Martin Sheen, Bradley Whitford, and Richard Schiff. More recently, through organizing annual celebrity Labor Day Tweet-a-Thons, through which millions of people have seen tweets about the advantages of being a #unionmember from high-profile artists, athletes and celebrities. And producing viral videos like the Friends with Low Wages cartoon parodying Walmart’s unionbusting, viewed more than 750,000 times.

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In 2012, Jobs with Justice and American Rights at work, two independent organizations with a robust track record of advancing workers’ rights and economic justice, merged. Now we have relaunched as one incredible organization called Jobs With Justice. Building on our combined 35-year history, we are continuing to lead the fight for workers’ rights and an economy that benefits everyone.