Omidyar Network believes that dignified work enables dignified lives.
A dignified life means stability and agency. It means we get paid fairly for the work we do, and get a fair return for the time we put in. It means we can make ends meet, sustain our families, and send our kids off to a brighter future. It means we can take time off when needed to care for ourselves and our loved ones. And it means that everyone has a safe workplace, so no one has to choose between their health and their paycheck.
Taken together, dignified work promotes and underpins our health, well-being, and quality of life. While dignified work is important in and of itself, it’s also important for our broader democracy and society. In fact, they are mutually reinforcing: Healthy economies, societies, and democracies are only possible when working people have the agency to demand — and get — a fair share of the economic success their work produced.
ON defines worker power as the ability of working people acting together to influence the terms of their work — including pay and benefits, but also the broader working conditions they experience and the terms of their employment. Workers can exercise power through direct bargaining with employers, as well as by having the ability to effectively advocate for policies at city, state, and federal levels.
Increasing worker power is more urgent now than ever, as millions of working people stand on the brink of disaster — or go over it — as our economy falters.
And as is almost always the case in difficult times, the people experiencing the greatest impacts of the crisis are those most vulnerable to them: workers who were already paid low wages with no benefits or protections, thanks to decades of wage stagnation, skyrocketing costs, and fraying benefits coverage.
From the caregivers who look after our children and elderly family members, to the clerks at grocery stores keeping shelves stocked, to the local restaurant’s waitstaff, to the gig workers still scrambling to get by in precarious jobs since the last recession — suddenly, a vast swath of vulnerable working people in America have been thrust to the frontlines of a pandemic, risking their lives to help the rest of the nation stay safe, healthy, and fed.
Working people built our economy — and have always enabled our continued success as a country. Amplifying their power, agency, and voice so they can speak up for themselves, have good jobs, and live lives they can be proud of, will provide resilience in the face of disruption. And it will help us create and preserve a healthy society and democracy, where prosperity is fairly shared, and the American Dream is available to everyone. Read our full point of view, Our Vision for the Future of Workers and Work.