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.
We envision a society free of exploitation and oppression, where all people have the resources to live happy lives.
As we fight to dismantle the old society, we wish to build institutions that directly represent the interests of working people and create an economy that is rooted in democracy and ecological sustainability. In the past, workers have built workers councils and cooperatives to democratically make decisions about their workplaces. This vision and the beliefs it is built on are woven throughout all of our projects and campaigns.
The PVWC is committed to taking a range of actions to address issues of concern.
Engage in innovative and creative worker-driven organizing to address issues of concern to working, low-wage and immigrant workers in the Pioneer Valley
Create avenues for leadership development and organizing skills so that workers can advocate for themselves and others while building a participatory democratic space for the promotion and defense of worker rights
Build coalitions and partnerships with unions, community groups, faith groups, and individuals .to increase organizing opportunities
Expand our political power in the Pioneer Valley and strengthen the voice of vulnerable workers in the political process
Employ popular education methodologies to provide trainings related to workers’ rights, organizing, and unions
Facilitate research into potential organizing targets through partnerships with local academic institutions
Provide legal services, processing of wage and hour claims, workmen’s compensation cases, and immigration assistance
The PVWC is a non-hierarchical organization, and is run cooperatively. All major decisions are made collectively by staff and our worker leaders, as well as with input the worker committees.
Rose Bookbinder, Lead Organizer
Rose Bookbinder is an organizer with WMJWJ and has been involved with the PVWC since its inception. She began her career fighting for workers rights in Westchester County and the Hudson Valley of NY, working with day laborers in the construction and agricultural sectors. As a lead organizer for the United Auto Workers, she worked with Casino Dealers and Higher Ed, and with AFSCME, she worked with food service workers. In times of transition Rose always finds herself back in the restaurant industry and is excited to be a part of organizing that will bring systemic change to the food system in Western Mass. She is on the Leadership team of the PVWC and serves as its Coordinator.
Gabriella Della Croce, Lead Organizer
Gabriella della Croce is an organizer and educator whose work has always revolved around food systems, food access and environmental justice. She has a wide range of experience in development, sales, communications, education and cooperative enterprises as well as in the restaurant industry. Gabriella spent two years in Nicaragua, before deciding to redirect her organizing efforts back home, and is thrilled to be organizing in her home turf.
Diana Sierra, Lead Organizer
Diana Sierra has primarily worked in student, immigrant, labor, and solidarity movements. From 2011-2014, she worked as a union officer in order to link the “bread and butter demands” of graduate students to a broader movement to democratize the university. Since 2013, she has worked as a popular educator, collaborating with a Salvadoran museum to link history education to social justice. She holds a PhD in History and Women's Studies from the University of Michigan and is currently a lecturer at Smith College.
Andrea Schmid, Organizer
Andrea recently joined the PVWC as the organization's first full-time organizer. While her organizing work started in the climate justice movement, the struggle for immigration and workers rights has been integral to her life and identity as a Latinx, with deep ties to the Central American working community in her hometown of Miami and native Honduras. She believes that the strength of community organizing comes from the powerful connections that are made with immigrants and workers on the ground, as it breaks the illusion that we are alone in our struggles and ignites the power of collective action. Andrea's work is based in Springfield, organizing the Worker's Committee and supporting La Cliniquita at Birghtwood Health Clinic, which provides healthcare and treatment to farm worker's and their families. She also coordinates theSanctuary in the Streets 24-hour rapid response hotline.
Margaret Sawyer, Lead Organizer
Margaret coordinates the Springfield Workers Committee, leads the PVWC Interfaith Sanctuary and Solidarity Network, and assists with finances and development. She also helped to launch the ACLUM Immigrant Protection Project of Western Massachusetts, where she served as Project Coordinator for a six month pilot project, and is now a staff advisor. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Margaret has an extensive background in working on immigrant and farmworker rights, often from a faith perspective. She founded the Philadelphia New Sanctuary Movement in 2007, uniting immigrants and congregations to support families facing detention and to speak up for immigrant rights. Soon after, Margaret moved to Oxnard California where she served as Executive Director and Development Director of the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) from 2010 to 2016.
Eve Weinbaum has been involved with the PVWC since the early discussions about protecting and advancing workers’ rights in Western Mass. She is the Director of the Labor Center at UMass Amherst, where she is a faculty member and runs two Master’s Degree programs for students, activists, and labor movement leaders. She is also vice president of the MSP, the faculty and librarians’ union at UMass, and was previously an organizer with HERE and ACTWU/UNITE.
Andrew Stachiw is a licensed high school teacher in MA, an adjunct in the Farm and Food Systems at GCC, and a worker-owner at the Toolbox for Education and Social Action, a worker-owned cooperative created to democratize education and the economy while furthering the cooperative movement. Through his work at TESA, Andrew has run cooperative academies in across the country, helping to start over 20 worker-coops. Andrew is also on the advisory board for both the worker-cooperative Peer Mentorship Program.
Shelley Zimbalist is a longtime activist and non-profit leader. With a background in housing, mediation, community organizing and social justice philanthropy she currently is a philanthropic advisor and nonprofit consultant. She has been a non-violence trainer of trainers and has participated in nonviolent direct action. She originally got involved with PVWC as a grant maker, drawn by the economic justice work of the center.
Juan Carlos Aguilar
Juan Carlos Aguilar, Director of the Supervised Visitation Program at NELCWIT,
has more than 20 years of experience working to achieve social justice through funding, strategic planning and community organizing. He previously worked as an Associate Director of Networking and Training for the National Priorities Project, a Program Officer for the Environmental and Global Justice Programs at the Solidago Foundation and as the Director of Grants and Training at the Peace Development Fund. Juan Carlos has had the opportunity to collaborate with a large variety of groups working for social change in the U.S. and in the "Global South," especially from Chiapas, Mexico and use this experience to inform his work.
Partnerships & Affiliations
Our work is based on a solid foundation of many organizational partnerships.
We also work closely with numerous organizational partners including the United Food and Commercial Workers, UNITE-HERE, University of Massachusetts Labor Center, Western MassCOSH, Arts and Democracy Project, Agrarian Action Network, the Agricultural Justice Project, and more!