Globalization from Above or Below?

As workers and communities around the world confront the realities of globalization, the issue has become: globalization from above, imposed by multinational corporations and free trade agreements – or globalization from below, created by popular demands for fair labor standards and sustainable economies. Globalization from above has already brought us a widening wealth gap, not just between the global North and South, but within American society. Here and abroad, this enormous divide between rich and poor further compounds inequities of race, gender, and national origin, in what has become a truly vicious circle.

Equally destructive are the growing gaps in political power. bando maps In the past three decades, we have seen the shredding of the safety nets and community structures that sustain working families—from Mexico to Malaysia and from Los Angeles to New York. It appears the battles American workers fought in the 20th century against sweatshops, union busting and child labor will have to be fought again, this time all over the world.

A Donor Collaborative Since 1996

The Phoenix Fund was formed in 1996 as a donor collaborative to support these battles and to nurture a new generation of organizing—one fighting for globalization from below. The Phoenix Fund’s grantmaking budget is raised through collaborating donors and foundations, with New World providing core support, fiscal sponsorship, staffing and overhead costs. To date, almost $10 million has been funded in general support grants and a small seed grants program. Through grantmaking programs, we are investing in the frontline organizations and collaborations that are building economic justice movements from the bottom up.

We are also investing in the creation of solidarity campaigns and networks that will help activists turn the vicious circle of globalization, which pits one group of workers against another, into a virtuous circle, where working people can come together to raise the floor for all.

The Current Program Focus

  • Labor-Community Collaborations The Phoenix Fund has supported collaborative projects in metropolitan areas across the US that are revitalizing civic participation through new organizing and regional economic policy reform. In each project, progressive unions are reconnecting with community organizations and interfaith networks, and reaching new allies among immigrants and students. These collaborations are advancing broad policy agendas with a clear goal: to make decent jobs, worker rights, and public accountability the conditions of economic development, not its first casualties.
  • Immigrant Worker Centers The fund supports immigrant worker centers and national networks, along with programs to develop dialogue between these centers, potential allies and funders. The centers are vital to undocumented workers and their families in challenging sweatshop conditions and creating safe vehicles for civic participation, especially in growing campaigns for labor and immigration rights. In addition, the centers have brought new voices and greater diversity to activism in the US.