The Pioneer Valley Workers’ Center builds power with low-wage and immigrant workers throughout Western Massachusetts. Together, we organize to build community and win real change in the lives of working people.
Day of Solidarity with Lucio Perez: Marking One Year in Sanctuary on October 20
Stand in solidarity with Lucio Perez on Saturday October 20!
Join us for a Community Gathering and Public Action at First Church Amherst, 165 Main St. Please sign up here to attend, we hope 400 people will join the action. You are also invited to join in a Solidarity Fast, details below.
We will gather together in the church sanctuary at 4 pm for a time of reflection, recognition, and re-commitment, joined by many sanctuary volunteers and a number of elected leaders.
At 5:15, we will exit the church for a public action, encircling church building hand-in-hand to call for justice and protection for Lucio, for Irida, and for all immigrants living in our country.
We will close with a reception in the church dining room. Please bring simple snacks to share, and we will break the fast together.
Solidarity Fast: Many of us will fast on October 20. Fasting is a spiritual practice in many faith traditions--a way of focusing one’s energy, reflecting and repenting. Fasting is also often used as a form of protest. As we refrain from eating on October 20, we will protest our country’s treatment of Lucio and immigrants nationwide, as we dedicate ourselves to working for a better world. Here is the sign-up link again, to attend on October 20 and to join in the fast.
We are proud to work closely with Lucio Perez and Irida Kakhtiranova, who have taken physical sanctuary in local churches. We are honored to work with faith leaders and people of faith at both the First Church Amherst and the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence. Both of these brave individuals are currently are fighting their deportation cases from the safety of sanctuary in faith congregations, alongside their families and communities.
We support Lucio and Irida and their home faith communities through organizing around their campaigns. Taking physical sanctuary is a form of resistance to the state violence and the deportation machine, lived and fought 24-hour a day. Join us in supporting their work!
Donate to support Irida's family and legal costs here.
Supporting Our Workers
Rideshare and Accompinament Trainings
The Pioneer Valley Workers Center's Sanctuary in the Streets (SiS) network seeks build the trust and solidarity needed to confront injustice. Through SiS's solidarity programs, we provide direct support to worker leaders to promote organizing.
Join our network through participating in our Rideshare or Court Accompaniment programs! In order to be part of this network, you must join us for one of our orientations. If you've already been trained for the rideshare, you can sign up for accompaniment only. Please see below for signup information!
Driving is essential, but many of our members are not able to drive for a variety of reasons. Rideshare drivers participate in a one-hour training and are then notified of opportunities to drive community leaders when needed. Many of the rides are specifically to support Lucio Perez, living in sanctuary at First Church Amherst to fight his deportation case. Drivers support his family in visiting him, in addition to providing support to other community members. With at least 10 rides per week, we always need more dedicated drivers!
Immigrant community member’s sometimes request that someone accompany them to an appointment with Immigration officials or to a court date. In today's political climate, these meetings can be very scary, and indeed sometimes do lead to deportations. Volunteers will assist the immigrant community member by providing a ride, helping locate the appropriate office, providing support, observing and taking notes on the proceedings, and communicating with the Workers Center about the meeting's outcome. Familiarity with Spanish or other languages is useful but not necessary. Please join our one-hour training to participate in accompanying Immigrant Community Members to appointments. We hope to develop a large enough pool that we can always find someone available to fill each request.
Thursday, 8/30: RIDESHARE TRAINING, 6:30-7:30 pm
Thursday 8/30: COURT ACCOMPANIMENT TRAINING, 7:30-8:30 pm
Saturday, September 1st: RIDESHARE TRAINING, 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Saturday, September 1st: COURT ACCOMPANIMENT TRAINING, 11 a.m. - noon
We have bilingual volunteer opportunities and phone responder trainings for Sanctuary in the Streets
Learn how you can help with:
- Court accompaniment
- Interpreting for meetings & events
- Rideshare coordinating
- Answering the Sanctuary in the Streets Hotline
Justice Cup 2018, Monday October 8th
The Justice Cup is our annual summer soccer tournament. Teams from Holyoke to Greenfield play soccer, enjoy good food, and celebrate the amazing social justice work being done across the Pioneer Valley. You don’t have to play soccer to come and enjoy the fun. The tournament also provides a platform for local workers to lift their voices and speak up at the mic about their experiences on the job.
Keep an eye on our website and our Facebook page for updates!
Why have a Workers Center?
The Pioneer Valley prides itself on being a hub of the local food movement which values sustainability, buying local, and fair trade, yet the jobs of those who serve food in its restaurants are characterized by low wages, few benefits, discrimination, no voice at work, and little opportunity for advancement.
Currently it is employers and consumers who dominate the dialogue around the food systems in our region while the voices and interests of workers are left unheard.
In the absence of grassroots base-building that seeks to connect and organize diverse groups of restaurant workers, there is little opportunity to engage in the direct action needed to create the systemic change that improves conditions for all food workers.