Healing into Power: An Approach for Confronting Workplace Sexual Violence
Since its emergence in the early 1990s, the Justice for Janitors campaign has held a place of prominence in the annals of the U.S. labor movement, helping to debunk the false notion that new immigrants working in structurally precarious conditions are “unorganizable.” In 2015, however, leaders at SEIU-United Service Workers West (USWW), where the campaign started, recognized that the union had yet to put its collective power and resources toward confronting one of the most serious issues facing members: sexual harassment and violence. Based on research conducted between 2018 and 2020, we seek to capture how SEIU-USWW joined in coalition with other organizations to take on this problem, fostering survivor and worker leadership through a healing-centered promotora model of peer education.
. . [L]eaders at SEIU-United Service Workers West . . . recognized that the union had yet to put its collective power and resources toward confronting one of the most serious issues facing members: sexual harassment and violence.
The storyline of the promotoras in California’s janitorial industry is all too rare. While Black women originally blazed the path for stronger legal protections against sexual harassment, women of color, immigrant women, and those in low-paying jobs often continue to face acute structural barriers to speaking up. And, although a number of unions have taken a stand on the issue, many labor leaders still fail to recognize sexual harassment as a core workplace issue, with some actively perpetuating harassment and reinforcing longstanding cultures of male dominance. Even for unions that have taken action, efforts that leverage substantial resources to shift power and advance prevention, fostering deep culture change, are few and far between. A failure to fully appreciate and confront the trauma of sexual violence has serious implications for the ability of unions to respond to member needs and build collective power. Until it adopts a more explicit commitment to addressing sexual violence and other harms through an approach that entwines healing with organizing for structural change, the labor movement will remain hamstrung in unlocking the full power of marginalized workers to change their conditions.
Bearing Witness and Building a Commitment
As in other low-wage settings, challenging structural conditions and stark power differentials conspire to make janitors vulnerable to sexual violence and discourage them from speaking up. Janitors often work in isolation and at night, increasing the risk of harassment and assault. Subcontracting, which accelerated starting in the1980s, frequently obscures reporting channels and muddies employer accountability, particularly in the nonunion segment of the industry, where many contractors operate underground. As more women entered the industry in recent decades, they navigated a male-dominated workforce, and the supervisory ranks have remained overwhelmingly male even as the frontline workforce has become more female over time—conditions that often breed harassment. Mostly women, immigrants, and people of color in California’s subcontracted commercial cleaning sector, janitors often experience intersecting forms of marginalization that limit access to alternate work and heighten exposure to abuse. Employer inaction or retaliation in cases when they come forward about harassment and violence often contributes to a climate of fear and mistrust.
“I share this [experience] because I know this is happening every day. This isn’t just in the janitorial industry, it’s in all industries . . . And as a woman, one lives and fights out of necessity, to support your family. To survive.”
At a series of union events in 2015, a group of SEIU-USWW women leaders began screening a new PBS Frontline documentary, “Rape on the Night Shift,” that exposed the sexual violence and culture of impunity enabled by these conditions. Upon hearing testimonies in the documentary, a number of women members began speaking about their own experiences, revealing that the issue was far more widespread than many had realized. This prompted union leaders, including elected member delegates, to formally commit union resources toward developing a comprehensive response. As a first step, they added sexual harassment to a survey on member priorities for an upcoming collective bargaining round. It proved to be one of the top three member concerns, helping to make the case for including sexual harassment protections in the janitors’ master contract in 2016. Another key moment in late 2015 helped shape the path ahead. At an event celebrating the passage of a bill fighting wage theft in the industry, a nonunion worker named Georgina Hernández gave a stirring speech in which she shared her harrowing experience of being raped and threatened by a supervisor. Her testimony spurred women leaders at the SEIU-USWW to commit to rolling out an even more comprehensive response to the issue that would reach the large nonunionized segment of the industry as well. Reflecting on her decision to speak out, Hernández told us,
I share this [experience] because I know this is happening every day. This isn’t just in the janitorial industry, it’s in all industries . . . And as a woman, one lives and fights out of necessity, to support your family. To survive.
Forming a Coalition and Adapting a Model
As the SEIU-USWW activists set out to build a comprehensive response to the issue, they were inspired by the farmworkers of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), who were fighting sexual violence and other abuses through a model that was worker-driven and carefully tailored to their industry. The SEIU-USWW had a number of local partners ready to join in supporting janitors in building their own worker-led model. The Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund (MCTF), a statewide watchdog group focusing on the nonunion side of the janitorial industry, was one. MCTF had a record of pursuing cases of workplace sexual violence, including that of Hernández. The USWW and MCTF also leveraged existing relationships with the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) and other anti-violence organizations.
The East L.A. Women’s Center (a CALCASA affiliate) had developed a trauma-informed method, relying on community peer educators (promotoras) to combat gender-based violence. Janitors worked with the emergent coalition to adapt this method, creating a new workplace promotora model for the janitorial industry. The groups in this coalition eventually joined with the national organization Futures Without Violence and other anti-violence advocates, legal advocates, researchers, and safety and health professionals across California to formally establish the Ya Basta! Coalition. Six years on, the janitors’ promotora model has helped to build leadership on the issue among a corps of workers, many of whom are survivors, nurturing their capacity to help lead the transformation needed in the industry.Drawing inspiration from the popular education approach championed by Paulo Freire in Brazil in the 1970s and 1980s and the challenge it posed to hierarchical forms of pedagogy, promotora models use a peer education approach meant to address conditions like those confronting janitors. Promotoras generally originate from, and have an intimate knowledge of, the communities in which they work, helping to foster trust in settings where people frequently distrust mainstream institutional channels and face barriers to accessing them. In addition to sharing knowledge and skills, promotoras are often trained to provide peer support and liaise with advocacy groups and social service providers.  In the United States, promotoras have served as community health workers in Latinx and immigrant communities, and there is evidence indicating that promotora programs can help to reduce disparities in learning, health care access, and health outcomes.
The janitors’ promotora model was designed to address the conditions producing marginalization and distrust and provide a basis for individual and collective action on the issue. Critically, the coalition understood that this could not be done effectively without enabling survivors to navigate the pain and trauma of sexual violence and other abuses. Thus, the model incorporated another crucial element: a trauma-informed framework designed to promote healing. A trauma-informed approach to addressing sexual violence recognizes the various and lasting ways survivors may be affected, and how trauma might shape their needs in moving through a healing process. It also recognizes that the psychological harm inflicted by these experiences may leave survivors feeling unsafe, isolated in their pain, disconnected from community, and with an injured sense of dignity and self-worth. The imprint of trauma can profoundly shape survivors’ behavior, emotions, cognition, and memory, as certain modes of coping—such as dissociation or hypervigilance—persist well beyond the initial trauma. Communities facing oppression or violence can also experience collective trauma, rupturing connections and social trust across family and social networks.
In addition to establishing safety and trust, another central tenet of a trauma-informed approach is facilitating survivors’ ability to exercise choice and control. For janitors, the distress and sense of powerlessness caused by experiences of verbal harassment, groping, stalking, and rape is often compounded by the layers of marginalization and associated traumas they have already experienced. Because such traumatic experiences impose a sense of powerlessness and fear, it becomes critical in the healing process to avoid reproducing those associations (which could be retraumatizing), instead fostering survivors’ sense of agency and control. In this context, overcoming the silencing, stigma, and shame that cloak issues of sexual harassment and violence and cultivating the trust and connection enabling survivors to speak up and restore collective resilience demand extra attention.
The call to understand trauma and psychological harm within a broader social context of oppression and exploitation has a notable lineage.
Critical perspectives have called attention to the tendency in some trauma theory and practice to focus on the individual without recognizing the systemic roots of traumatic harm. The call to understand trauma and psychological harm within a broader social context of oppression and exploitation has a notable lineage. In his 1952 book, Black Skin, White Masks, psychiatrist and revolutionary intellectual Frantz Fanon theorized the impossibility of addressing the psychic harm and alienation experienced by colonized peoples without fighting to end the brutal reign of colonialism itself. More recently, scholars in psychiatry, social work, and other fields have followed in this line of critique, emphasizing the connection between fostering individual well-being and addressing the root causes of trauma and distress through social action or political movements. These perspectives highlight both the shared dimensions of trauma and oppression and the ways in which collective action can serve as a vital channel for healing—restoring survivors’ sense of agency and creating the conditions for their well-being.
The coalition approach of the janitors’ promotora program in California provides this critical link between healing and collective empowerment. The anti-violence organizations within the Ya Basta! Coalition brought a deep grounding in healing-centered frameworks that recognize the broader conditions producing traumatic harm. The leadership and structural position of the SEIU-USWW and MCTF have provided a foothold for shaping the model to the industry context and connecting efforts to confront sexual violence with broader strategies for shifting power. Together, these groups have developed a model that provides a new set of tools for janitors to take on an issue that harms them, offering a foundation for those who suffered in silence to find healing and voice.
A Survivor- and Worker-Led Approach to Building Power
Through the Ya Basta! promotora program, janitors whom we interviewed as part of our research went through a series of culturally relevant trainings to become peer educators, preparing them to support other janitors in learning about protections against sexual harassment, strategies for confronting the problem, and resources for survivors. The trauma-informed approach seeks to advance healing both as an important end in itself and a critical foundation for survivors to take leadership on the issue, centering sexual harassment as part of their broader drive to challenge unequal power relations in the workplace.
The trauma-informed approach seeks to advance healing both as an important end in itself and a critical foundation for survivors to take leadership on the issue . . .
To step into a promotora workshop is to see dozens of immigrant women janitors who are fluent in naming their rights (and their contract protections, for those who are unionized) and who fluidly blend the language of healing and collective action. In describing their experiences in the program, promotoras often note a reciprocal relationship between personal leadership development and building collective power, and between learning and teaching. Many of the women janitors who become promotoras have personally experienced sexual harassment and gender-based violence, both in the workplace and outside of it, and point to the program as a source of healing.
To step into a promotora workshop is to see dozens of immigrant women janitors who are fluent in naming their rights . . . and who fluidly blend the language of healing and collective action.
The janitor promotora program has two key channels of impact: the healing and leadership development that the promotoras themselves experience as they train for and inhabit their new role, and the influence that promotoras have, in turn, on their coworkers, workplaces, and the industry as a whole. To become promotoras, janitors must complete a training series comprising several topics related to confronting sexual harassment and developing skills in peer education and training. In our research, many promotoras identified helping their peers to “break the silence” about sexual harassment as a core element of their role. “We are living bridges who can help someone cross to the other side so they can be a survivor,” said Veronica Lagunas, one of the promotoras we interviewed.
Given the conditions that impose silence and shame around the issue of workplace sexual harassment and violence, those designing the promotora program knew that janitors were unlikely to speak up about their experiences unless trust had been established—and that openings for broaching the issue of sexual harassment and bringing people into the program might come through other avenues. Indeed, in interviews and focus group discussions, many promotoras described a path that began with taking action on other issues such as wage theft. From there, they developed both a sense of trust and a deepened sense of agency that enabled them to confront sexual harassment and violence. Decisions by USWW and MCTF leadership to prioritize the issue were essential in signaling to workers that sexual harassment was a valid labor issue to address. The trauma-informed janitor promotora training seeks to cultivate survivors’ empowerment both as individuals and, importantly, as part of a collective. As they were acquiring information, skills, and strategies for supporting workers facing sexual harassment and assault, the promotoras were also participating in healing spaces where previously silenced stories were finally witnessed and spoken aloud. Being able to recount the story of trauma and establishing a connection between survivors and community are key stages of recovery, and so the transformation of a traumatic, privately held experience into testimony is a move that is both healing and political. In the years since the Ya Basta! Coalition was created, different versions of the janitor promotora programs have branched off, training well over one hundred promotoras in all. MCTF has a Promotora Industrial Program that provides intensive leadership training for nonunion janitors across California and a self-defense leadership program in which janitors teach their peers to defend themselves from sexual assault. The SEIU-USWW is working to scale up a compadre training program for men to join in solidarity in confronting workplace sexual harassment and violence in the California janitorial industry.
In the past two years, the role of peer educators in the California janitorial industry has also been formalized through legislation. Passage of AB 1978, legislation supported by the Ya Basta! Coalition, mandated provisions that include in person sexual harassment and violence prevention training across the state.37 The SEIU-USWW and MCTF then advanced the Janitor Survivor Empowerment Act (AB 547, signed into law in the fall of 2019), which requires that janitorial services vendors fulfill the employee training requirement by contracting with specific organizations that create a pathway for janitor promotoras and compadres to undertake more extensive development as trainers, the union created the Ya Basta! Center (distinct from the Ya Basta! Coalition). The Center offers a maestría (or “master”) certification program for janitors to become professional peer-to peer advocates for sexual harassment prevention.38 provide qualified peer trainers. To create a pathway for janitor promotoras and compadres to undertake more extensive developmentas trainers, the union created the Ya Basta! Center (distinct from the Ya Basta! Coalition). The Center offers a maestría (or “master”) certification program for janitors to become professional peer-to-peer advocates for sexual harassment prevention.
Lessons for Labor
The path SEIU-USWW and MCTF have taken has continued to reveal, in ever greater depth, the profound impact of sexual harassment and violence. These experiences violate the dignity and bodily integrity of many janitors. In line with previous work on career effects for working women, our research also showed that women, more often than men, had to change job posts following experiences of sexual harassment (undoubtedly many quit as well). The SEIU-USWW leaders we spoke with described the realization that committing the union’s resources toward confronting the issue was integral in fulfilling its mission.
. . . [S]everal unions put in place codes of conduct and established commissions to study the issue. However, well-resourced union efforts to root out the problem are few in number . . .
The janitors’ promotora model holds important lessons for the labor movement. In recent decades, a number of unions have introduced protections against sexual harassment into collective bargaining agreements. Following the surge in #MeToo and #TimesUp activism in 2017, several unions put in place codes of conduct and established commissions to study the issue. However, well-resourced union efforts to root out the problem are few in number, and the power the promotoras have wielded in shaping their model to their workplace realities is notable. Along with other key examples offered by the CIW’s model and UNITE HERE’s “Hands Off, Pants On” campaign, the janitors’ promotora model shows highly marginalized women workers at the forefront of innovating responses to workplace sexual harassment and violence.
The waning power of the labor movement in recent decades, including the precipitous decline in union density, stems in large measure from external factors: political and employer attacks and related policy and regulatory changes, outsourcing and global competition, deindustrialization, and the restructuring of work. But unionists must also look inward in grappling with how to extend labor’s reach. And, the question of how to be more responsive to the breadth of issues confronting marginalized workers will be essential to growing and deepening the movement in the years ahead. As the promotora model demonstrates, working in coalition with other movement allies will play an important role in labor’s ability to do so effectively.
The janitors’ promotora model spearheaded by the SEIU-USWW and MCTF offers important lessons, not just because of the problem it has taken on but how it has done so. Women have been active in the Justice for Janitors campaign since its inception. But the promotora program has confronted an issue that was largely sealed off from discussion despite its serious impact on many women members and has tapped into unrealized leadership capacities among women for whom the harms wrought by sexual harassment and violence had had a silencing effect. Today, amid a health and economic crisis that has exacted multilayered harm upon the most exploited and marginalized workers, this program speaks to the potentially transformative impact of a trauma-informed approach to organizing: one that recognizes the two-way relationship between healing trauma and building collective power.
The program also holds lessons for how solidarity is practiced and understood in the labor movement and in progressive organizing more broadly. The 1990s saw a number of activists and intellectuals assert the irreconcilability of class-based and “identity-based” mobilization. However, a large body of work has shown how the creation of inequality from difference is built into capitalism; how struggles for redistribution and recognition are intertwined; and how the intersection of different marginalized identities often aggravates risks of bodily, psychic, and economic harm. Recent work has suggested that “worker issues” and “immigrant issues” should not be separated in union approaches to engaging immigrant communities,  and the SEIU-USWW and other “Justice for Janitors” locals arguably have a strong record of practicing this more holistic approach.
. . . [W]omen unionists have long framed their demands under the constraints imposed by patriarchy within organized labor and society more broadly.
Taking on the issue of sexual violence posed risks of backlash for the SEIU-USWW and MCTF. If recent political history has taught us anything, however, it is that shying away such challenges—from confronting patriarchy, white supremacy, and xenophobia, in all their forms— does not provide a path for basic coexistence, let alone solidarity. The SEIU-USWW leaders recognized that sexual violence had to be addressed in order for members to be safe and feel whole. Building solidarity and collective action around the issue of sexual violence has required painstaking work: supporting women most affected by the issue through a process of empowerment and engaging men as allies in the struggle, as the growing compadre program seeks to do.
The project is ongoing, of course. Ensuring accountability for supervisors and other employer representatives who reinforce conditions in which sexual harassment occurs, or engage in it themselves, requires continuing work. Indeed, even as the SEIU-USWW and MCTF offer a powerful structural position from which to advance a trauma-informed, peer-led approach, they are engaged in a long-term struggle to change an industry marked by entrenched power inequities. Rooting out sexual harassment perpetrated by members also demands ongoing work within the union, and SEIU and its locals around the country continue to reckon with sexual harassment at the staff level.
Even amid these challenges, the janitors’ promotora model is notable for its impact and ambition. The labor movement has never been immune from broader systems of oppression, and women unionists have long framed their demands under the constraints imposed by patriarchy within organized labor and society more broadly. Now, with unions hemorrhaging members during the current economic downturn, there is a danger that sexual violence and other issues related to gender and racial justice will once again get placed on the back burner. But the janitors’ promotora model points to another possible future that deepens the relevance and impact of the labor movement while expanding its base of power. Promotora Veronica Lagunas, now a professional peer-to-peer advocate at the Ya Basta! Center, is already envisioning a future in which other workers adapt this model to their own conditions. “We graduated as trainers to be able to give this type of training in workplaces,” she told us. “Honestly, I see myself in the future going to other industries and telling them, ‘This is what we were going through, and this is how we overcame it.’”
1. Roger D. Waldinger, Chris Erickson, Ruth Milkman, Daniel Mitchell, Abel Valenzuela, Kent Wong, and Maurice Zeitlan, “Helots No More: A Case Study of the Justice for Janitors Campaign in Los Angeles” (working paper, Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, Los Angeles, 1996).
2. The authors wish to thank the promotoras, the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund (MCTF), SEIU-United Service Workers West (USWW), and Futures Without Violence for trusting us to document this important work. We are grateful to Valery Alzaga, Mark Bergfeld, Lorna Gonsalves, and Arianna Schindle for their helpful comments. All remaining errors are ours alone.
3. Zoë West, Sanjay Pinto, and K. C. Wagner, “Sweeping Change: Building Survivor and Worker Leadership to Confront Sexual Harassment in the Janitorial Industry,” 2021, available at https://hdl.handle.net/1813/74351.
4. Sanjay Pinto, K. C. Wagner, and Zoë West, “Stopping Sexual Harassment in the Empire State: Past, Present, and a Possible Future,”
2019, available at https://ecommons.cornell. edu/handle/1813/74350.
5. The American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) created this toolkit, available at https:// aflcio.org/sites/default/files/2019-03/1907_SexHarrassToolkit_eversion_0.pdf. Many unions inside and outside the federation have created such resources in recent years.
6. Ana Avendaño, “#MeToo inside the Labor Movement,” New Labor Forum 28, no. 1 (2019): 66-75.
7. See Marion Crain and Ken Matheny, “Sexual Harassment and Solidarity,” George Washington Law Review 87 (2019): 56; Marion Crain, “Women,
Labor Unions, and Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment: The Untold Story,” Texas Journal of Women and the Law 4 (1995): 9.
8. Helen Chen, Alejandra Domenzain, and Karen Andrews, “The Perfect Storm: How Supervisors Get Away with Sexually Harassing Workers Who Work Alone at Night,” Labor Occupational Health Program, University of California, Berkeley, 2019.
9. Ruth Milkman, L.A. Story: Immigrant Workers and the Future of the US Labor Movement (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006).
10. Chen et al., “The Perfect Storm.”
11. Barbara A. Gutek and Bruce Morasch, “Sex-Ratios, Sex-Role Spillover, and Sexual Harassment of Women at Work,” Journal of Social Issues 38, no. 4 (1982): 55-74.
12. See American Community Survey 2017 data analyzed in Ratna Sinroja, Sarah Thomason, and Ken Jacobs, “Misclassification in California: A Snapshot of the Janitorial Services, Construction, and Trucking Industries,” Center for Labor Research and Education, University of California Berkeley, March 2019. It is worth noting that American Community Survey data likely undercount the proportion of immigrant women working in janitorial services due to several reasons, including lower census survey response rates among the immigrant workforce and among the janitorial service contractors who employ higher proportions of immigrant women workers.
13. Sara Hinkley, Annette Bernhardt, and Sarah Thomason, “Race to the Bottom: How Low-Road Subcontracting Affects Working Conditions in California’s Property Services Industry,” 2016, available at https://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/pdf/2016/Race-to-the-Bottom.pdf.
14. West et al., “Sweeping Change.”
15. A master contract is a union-employer collective bargaining agreement that covers all worksites across a given industry or company within a particular geographic area. The SEIU-USWW’s Janitorial Master Contract covers all twenty-five thousand members in California.
16. SB 588, “A Fair Day’s Pay Act,” passed in 2015 with the backing of the MCTF and SEIU-USWW.
17. West et al., “Sweeping Change.”
18. For more on how the CIW model has taken on sexual harassment and other abuses through a model of “worker-driven social responsibility,” see Greg Asbed and Steve Hitov, “Preventing Forced Labor in Corporate Supply Chains: The Fair Food Program and Worker-Driven Social Responsibility,” Wake Forest Law Review 52 (2017): 497.
19. In 1999, recognizing that the large nonunionized portion of the California janitorial industry remained replete with labor violations, SEIU Local 1877 (a precursor to the current statewide building service local, SEIU-USWW) partnered with a set of unionized cleaning contractors to create the MCTF, an industry watchdog group.
20. “Ya basta” means “enough” in Spanish, and the USWW’s president had spoken those words as a rallying cry for the union to confront sexual harassment. Members of the coalition include the MCTF, SEIU-USWW, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), East Los Angeles Women’s Center, Equal Rights Advocates, UC Berkeley Labor Occupational Health Program, Worksafe, and Futures Without Violence. The Ya Basta! Coalition supported the multipronged response to sexual violence in California’s janitorial industry.
21. West et al., “Sweeping Change.”
22. Guadalupe X. Ayala, Lara Vaz, Jo Anne Earp, John P. Elder, and Andrea Cherrington, “Outcome Effectiveness of the Lay Health Advisor Model among Latinos in the United States: An Examination by Role,” Health Education Research 25, no. 5 (2010): 815-40.
23. Meera Viswanathan, Jennifer L. Kraschnewski, Brett Nishikawa, Laura C. Morgan, Amanda A. Honeycutt, Patricia Thieda, Kathleen N. Lohr, and Daniel E. Jonas, “Outcomes and Costs of Community Health Worker Interventions: A Systematic Review,” Medical Care 48 (2010): 792-808.
24. Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (New York: Basic Books,1992).
25. Jack Saul, Collective Trauma, Collective Healing: Promoting Community Resilience in the Aftermath of Disaster (London: Taylor & Francis, 2013).
26. Denise Elliott, Paula Bjelajac, Roger D. Fallot, Laurie S. Markoff, and Beth Glover Reed, “Trauma-Informed or Trauma-Denied: Principles and Implementation of Trauma-Informed Services for Women,” Journal of Community Psychology 33, no. 4 (2005): 461-77.
27. Shanti Kulkarni, “Intersectional Trauma-Informed Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Services: Narrowing the Gap between IPV Service Delivery and Survivor Needs,” Journal of Family Violence 34, no. 1 (2019): 55-64. SeeGinwright’s argument for a framework tha goes beyond being “trauma-informed” to being “healing centered.” S. A. Ginwright, “The Future of Healing: Shifting from Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement,” 2018, available at https://ginwright.medium.com/the-future-of-healing-shifting-from-traumainformed-care-to-healing-centered engagement-634f557ce69c. YOUTHREX Research & Evaluation eXchange (2021). See also Herman, Trauma and Recovery; Derek Summerfield, “A Critique of Seven Assumptions behind Psychological Trauma Programmes in War-Affected Areas,” Social Science & Medicine 48 (1999): 1449-62.
28. Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (New York: Grove Press, 2008).
29. Herman, Trauma and Recovery; Summerfield, “A Critique of Seven Assumptions.”
30. See Ginwright, “The Future of Healing”; Herman, Trauma and Recovery; and Kulkarni, “Intersectional Trauma-Informed (IPV) Services.”
31. West et al., “Sweeping Change.”
32. These topics include recognizing sexual harassment, legal rights related to sexual harassment, the impacts of sexual harassment and assault, resources for supporting survivors, prevention strategies, and skills for effective peer education and training.
33. West et al., “Sweeping Change.”
35. Herman, Trauma and Recovery.
36. The compadre program includes the same foundational training modules as the promotora training, with added material on understanding and deconstructing toxic masculinity; learning to listen to women and gender-nonconforming workers about their experiences of sexual violence at work and in society; and the role of allies in helping to change culture and practices, including specific tools for effectively intervening. For more on programs that train men as allies, see K. C. Wagner, Diane Yates, and Quentin Walcott, “Engaging Men and Women as Allies: A Workplace Curriculum Module to Challenge Gender Norms about Domestic Violence, Male Bullying and Workplace Violence and Encourage Ally Behavior,” Work 42, no. 1 (2012): 107-13; and Hunter Moskowitz, K. C. Wagner, and Yasamin Miller, “Engaging Men on Gender and Domestic Violence Prevention: Analysis of the 12 Men Model at Vera House, Inc.,” 2019, available at https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/74347.
37. The Property Service Workers Protection Act (AB 1978), signed into law in 2016, requires all janitorial services companies in California
to conduct in-person sexual harassment prevention training for employers and employees. The law also mandates that all janitorial services companies register with the state to more effectively track and investigate fly-by-night firms and companies known to violate labor laws.
38. The maestría requires janitors to complete eighty hours of training, followed by fieldwork under the supervision of a coach.
39. Heather McLaughlin, Christopher Uggen, and Amy Blackstone, “The Economic and Career Effects of Sexual Harassment on Working Women,” Gender & Society 31, no. 3 (2017): 333-58.
40. Ann C. Hodges, “Strategies for Combating Sexual Harassment: The Role of Labor Unions,” Texas Journal of Women and the Law 15 (2005): 183.
41. Avendaño, “#MeToo Inside the Labor Movement.”
42. Sarah Lyons, “‘Hands Off, Pants On’: The Collective and Radical Art of Shedding Self-Doubt,” Labor Studies Journal 43, no. 4 (2018): 263-68.
43. For more on this point, see Louise Fitzgerald,“Unseen: The Sexual Harassment of Low-Income Women in America,” Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal 39 (2019): 5-16. Another example of a coalition approach with organizations of marginalized workers is Healing to Action, which has collaborated with unions and worker centers in Chicago to create a survivor leadership program for workers from Latinx and Korean communities across multiple industries. See “Healing to Action 2019 Impact Report,” n.d., available at https://www.healingtoaction.org/.
44. Bruce Western, Between Class and Market: Postwar Unionization in the Capitalist Democracies (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).
45. Jane McAlevey, No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).
46. Waldinger et al., “Helots No More.”
47. See, for example, Todd Gitlin, The Twilight of Common Dreams: Why America Is Wracked by Culture Wars (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1995).
48. Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 2004); Stuart Hall, “Gramsci’s Relevance for the Study of Race and Ethnicity,” Journal of Communication Inquiry 10, no. 2 (1986): 5-27; Leith Mullings, On Our Own Terms: Race, Class, and Gender in the Lives of African-American Women (New York: Routledge, 1997).
49. Nancy Fraser, Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the “Postsocialist” Condition (New York: Routledge, 2014).
50. Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color,” Stanford Law Review 43 (1990): 1241.
51. Gabriella Alberti, Jane Holgate, and Maite Tapia, “Organising Migrants as Workers or as Migrant Workers? Intersectionality, Trade Unions and
Precarious Work,” The International Journal of Human Resource Management 24, no. 22 (2013): 4132-48.
52. Waldinger et al., “Helots No More.”
53. Dorothy Sue Cobble, The Other Women’s Movement: Workplace Justice and Social Rights in Modern America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005).
Sanjay Pinto is a fellow at the Worker Institute at Cornell, co-directs the Unions and Worker Ownership Program at the Rutgers Institute for Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, and is a consultant with the 1199SEIU Training and Employment Funds. His current research examines models that build power for direct care workers, approaches to confronting workplace sexual violence, and the use of digital tools to amplify worker voice.
Zoë West is an anthropologist and oral historian whose work centers on labor and migration. Her current research projects focus on alternative labor organizing models, precarity, and sexual harassment in the workplace. She teaches courses on labor, immigration, and oral history at Columbia University and the Harry Van Arsdale Jr. School of Labor Studies at SUNY Empire State College.
KC Wagner chairs the Equity at Work Initiative at the Worker Institute at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (Cornell ILR). She specializes in the prevention of sexual harassment, gender bias, bullying, gender-based violence, and promoting inclusiveness in the workplace, providing training to worker centers, unions, corporations, nonprofit, educational, and government organizations.