Organizing Workers in the New Economy

Organizing Workers in the New Economy

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Friday, Jul. 17 4:45 PM (Eastern)

Ends: Friday, Jul. 17 6:00 PM (Eastern)

Room: 222 C

The decline of unions has been a major factor in the rise of income inequality. Yet we cannot look to old tools to rebuild worker power. In the new economy, there are more contingent workers without access to meaningful collective bargaining than there are workers covered by collective bargaining agreements. Join us to hear how workers around the country are building new types of organizations to exert power over their economic lives. You’ll hear from panelists who led the fight for $15 in Seattle, who are organizing low-wage workers in Texas and who are building connections among workers in the sharing economy. You’ll also hear from the director of the Workers’ Lab, a new organization built to incubate new types of worker organizations across the country.


David Rolf

David Rolf

Known nationally as an innovative labor leader, Rolf is the President of SEIU 775, the fastest growing union in the Northwest representing 43,000 home care and nursing home workers in Washington State and Montana. Rolf is also an International Vice President of the Service Employees International Union, the international organization which represents more than 2.1 million workers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Rolf, 44, has led some of the largest organizing efforts since the 1930s. He helped organize 75,000 caregivers in Los Angles and founded the homecare union in Washington. Rolf also helped to create the SEIU NW Healthcare Training Partnership and Health Benefits Trust.

Rolf co-chaired Seattle’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee, the group entrusted by Mayor Ed Murray to formulate what would become Seattle’s historic $15 wage ordinance.

Rolf also sits on other boards and committees for governmental advisory bodies, political action committees and non-profit organizations.

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Natalie Foster

Natalie Foster

Natalie lives at the intersection of organizing, technology and movement-building. Natalie is CEO of Rebuild the Dream, a platform for bottom-up, people-powered innovations to help fix the U.S. economy, that she co-founded with Van Jones and Billy Wimsatt.

Previously, Natalie served as New Media Director for President Obama’s Organizing for America (OFA) and the Democratic National Committee. She built and ran the New Media team responsible for the digital organizing, web content, social media and fundraising.

Prior to joining OFA, Natalie built the first Online Organizing department at the Sierra Club and served as the Deputy Organizing Director for

Named one of the Top Fifty Women to Watch in Tech, she is often speaking and training at progressive centers like New Organizing Institute, Personal Democracy Forum, and Netroots Nation. Natalie’s based in San Francisco, CA with husband Matt Ewing and pup, Pac.

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Sejal Parikh


Sejal Parikh is Executive Director of Working Washington. Previously, Sejal had served as Working Washington’s fast food campaign director since the first Seattle fast food strikes. In that role, she was responsible for coordinating strategic mobilization, policy, and communications efforts which culminated in the historic vote to pass the nation’s first citywide $15 minimum wage law. She was also closely involved with Working Washington’s landmark effort to organize workers and raise standards at Sea-Tac Airport.

Before joining Working Washington, Sejal developed policy that expanded health care access for homecare workers in Montana, and provided volunteer legislative support for a national cancer advocacy group.

Sejal has a J.D. and an M.S in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and, although she has lived in Seattle for several years, still cheers for her Wolverines.

Richard Raya

Richard .Raya

Richard is Chief of Staff for The Workers Lab. The Workers Lab is the nation’s first union-backed innovation accelerator. Responding to the crisis facing American workers, The Workers Lab invests in organizing strategies, business models, and platforms that will lift wages and transform the lives of US workers.

Prior to joining The Workers Lab, Richard worked with PolicyLink to bring together legislators, the building industry, and social justice groups to craft Proposition 1D, a California ballot measure that raised more than $10 billion for school infrastructure. He also worked with Alameda County to develop creative ways of consolidating functions and using teamwork to save its Public Health Department $6 million per year, three years in a row during the height of the recession.

Richard’s parents were farmworkers in California’s Central Valley, but his mother went to community college and transferred to the University of California. She inspired Richard to do the same. After earning his Master’s in Public Policy at Berkeley, Richard dedicated his life to helping transform lives the way his life was transformed.

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Cristina Tzintzun

Cristina Tzintzún is the Executive Director of Workers Defense Project (WDP), a statewide, membership-based workers’ rights organization that is winning better working conditions for Texans. At WDP, Tzintzún has spearheaded efforts to ensure safe and dignified jobs for the nearly 900,000 construction workers that labor in the state. Her work has led to a federal investigation by OSHA into Texas’ deadly construction industry, the passage a statewide wage theft law, and better, safer jobs for thousands of low-wage workers in Austin and Travis County. She has been named “Hero of the New South” by Southern Living Magazine and won the national Trabajadora Community Leader award from the National Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. Her work has been covered in the New York Times, National Public Radio, Univision, and USA Today.

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