Our Guiding Values
The Southern Maine Workers’ Center is a member-led organization committed to creating a grassroots, people-powered movement that improves the lives, working conditions, and terms of employment for working-class and poor people in Maine. We believe that we must organize together to ensure our human rights, such as the Human Right to Health Care, and the right to Work with Dignity.
We are a member-led organization, and our members bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the table. We believe that our differences are important and make us stronger, and we also strive for political unity, common cause, and collective understanding. We come from different places, but we move forward together. The following set of values informs how we think about, strategize, and plan our work. These values ground us in history and theory, and they articulate our place in the expansive broader movement for justice and liberation that we strive daily to help build.
- All of our work is rooted in the values of equity, accountability, transparency, universality, and participation. These human rights principles describe the kind of world we are working to build, and they describe how we work together to get there.
- We are organizing an inclusive workers’ movement, which builds the power of workers, broadly defined, to transform our workplaces and communities.
- SMWC is a base-building organization: we believe that cultivating grassroots power is key to campaigns for social justice. We use a “transformative organizing” model, which emphasizes cultivating member leadership in order to collectively make lasting, systemic change.
- We believe that racism, classism, sexism, homophobia and all forms of discrimination strengthen the systems that keep us from realizing our human rights. We work to end systemic oppressions.
- We believe in the value and importance of racial justice organizing that is multi-faceted, multi-racial, and that makes a direct call to white people to participate a movement for racial justice and collective liberation.
- We endeavor to center the leadership of those who struggle the most under our current system, including youth, poor and working class people, and people of color. We know that the most effective solutions to the problems of profound economic injustice come from the collective imagining, resistance, and love of people who are directly affected. We have created a set of organizational commitments to help us stay accountable to our vision of ending classism and racism.
- We build solidarity between unionized and non-unionized workers, and between community and labor organizations. To do so, we collaborate, build coalitions, and engage in political education.
- We see our work as deeply interconnected with a broad expanse of movements for justice and liberation. We know that a world in which we all have human rights is also a world where Black Lives Matter, where people have freedom of movement and migration, where there is climate justice and indigenous sovereignty.
- We engage in cultural activities and creative work that reflects our vision for a just world. We do this in order to share that vision and grow our movement, as well as to examine and evaluate that vision ourselves. Arts and culture help us bring our full humanity into the movement.
- We believe that social change organizations should also be places where we have room to dream, create, laugh and build community– a place where all of us to feel empowered to learn new skills and try new things.
Our Compass Points to Human Rights
In January 2015 we updated our logo to reflect our current work and vision. We drew inspiration from an important tool in Maine, the compass, which has been used for navigation by those who work both the land and sea. We incorporated the North Star into the center of our compass as a metaphor for the guiding principles of our work – the human rights principles as well as racial and economic justice. In this leaderful organization, we’re all leading the way toward a more just world.