The Miami Workers Center was founded in Liberty City in 1999 by former labor organizers Gihan Perera and Tony Romano and residents from the Liberty City neighborhood in Miami. Building on contacts from labor organizing Gihan and Tony decided to investigate how people were dealing with exploitation not just on the job but in the community.
The first grassroots council started by the Miami Workers Center was Minority Families Fighting Against Wages, Wages was the name given to welfare. MFFAW organized against welfare reform during the Clinton era, built community leaders, and engaged in political education. MFFAW eventually became Low-Income Families Fighting Together, LIFFT. LIFFT was primarily based in Liberty Square aka Pork n' Beans and Scott Carver Homes, two public housing developments in Liberty City threatened with destruction. In 2001, MWC organizers and LIFFT leaders were able to stop the destruction or Pork n' Beans, but were not able to save Scott Carver Homes ending in the tearing down of all 850 units by the County. Over 7 years, we fought for the replacement of those housing units until 2007 when the county signed an agreement to rebuild the homes. Some of our members were still being relocated in 2013. Since 2001, LIFFT members have worked in several other campaigns. Together they won compensation for slumlord residents, funding for in-home childcare workers, and defended the rights of public housing residents. Throughout the years, several leaders in LIFFT made a name for themselves as voices for the community: Ms. Yvonne Stratford, Ms. Mary Nesbitt (RIP), Ms. Mary Wadley, and Ms. Erie Bendross. These leaders set an example for future leaders to follow.
Childcare Providers Organizing Committee
2000 - 2002·The Childcare Providers Organizing Committee was an organization of home-based childcare providers. The CPOC fought for fair wages and conditions and attempted to build a North Dade organization of providers. As part of the process, the Workers Center trained over 30 low-income women to begin their own certified childcare businesses and, in the process, educated them about their rights, and how to organize.
In 2005 MWC expanded its neighborhood organizing into Wynwood, a historically Puerto Rican community which has been gentrified to let the area become an epicenter for arts and culture in Miami. Over several years MWC organizers, along with community residents built Miami en Accion/Miami in Action (MIA), our second grassroots council. MIA fought to rebuild a community center at Roberto Clemente Park in Wynwood, and in 2010 celebrated a victory when the new community center was opened as a direct result of their work in the neighborhood. Throughout the years, MIA leaders and members have supported many fights throughout the state and nationally, like stopping deportations and anti-immigrant laws, promoting immigration reform, and working together with Miami-Dade County to stop detaining immigrants at the expenses of our Miami's taxpayers. Over the last five years several leaders in MIA have made a name for themselves as voices of the community: Ms. Gloria Adkins, Ms. Olga Ramos, Andres Gonzalez, Norma Marguerin, and Amelia Davila.