Working For Dignity
Work has long been a key source of human dignity, a central way we realize self-worth and respect. But in recent decades we have witnessed a transformation of both our economy and the nature of work. And despite the ebbing of the Great Recession, new patterns of inequality have emerged. In California, while a minority of workers have found lucrative employment in high-tech industries, a growing number are funneled into low-wage and precarious jobs in the service sector. These jobs all too often leave workers struggling in poverty, exhausted or hurt, harassed and demeaned, and with few ways out or up. So is there still dignity in work? This site explores this central questions through the answers, images and stories of workers themselves. It also provides workers, students, teachers and community members the resources to learn more about low wage work in Santa Cruz County, who you can contact if you face problems are work, and what we all can do to make work more just.
Voices of Low Wage Work
The purpose of this project has always been to tell the stories of everyday working people. We wish to understand the struggle created by living from paycheck to paycheck. The stories on this site are the words of a small number of the 1300 individuals that Working For Dignity surveyed. They did so at a cost of their own precious free time and we are extremely grateful to them. In all cases, names have been changed, and student voice actors have re-recorded the original audio verbatim. This was done to protect their identities, as the threat of retaliation from their employers is very real. Please visit the Digital Stories Archive, or view individual stories in the "Violations" pages.
Photos of The Struggle
The Working For Dignity photo team has been out in the field documenting the daily lives and activities of low wage workers all around Santa Cruz County. Come and see the faces and lives of our community! Visit Working for Dignity Photo Galleries