It’s Their Turn: Low-Wage Workers Launched a Coalition to Fight Sexual Harassment

First came #MeToo. Then, #TimesUp. Now, another rallying cry has emerged in the fight against sexual harassment: Our Turn.

The new campaign, launched Wednesday by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH), is a coalition effort to put a halt to sexual abuse and harassment with a specific focus on the experiences of low-wage and otherwise vulnerable workers. Low-wage workers—including janitors, factory workers and farmworkers—have united with safety, labor, anti-violence and women’s rights advocates with the intent to mobilize members and allies in workplace organizing, legislative advocacy and hands-on training and serve as a national clearinghouse for best practices and policies to prevent workplace sexual violence and abuse.

“For far too long, sexual harassment and other forms of abuse have been rampant in workplaces of all kinds,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in a statement. “I’m glad to stand side-by-side with working people committed to ending it.”

Although the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements began in Hollywood, women leading the star-studded side of this movement have consistently articulated the need to  expand its reach to women of all classes and in all workplaces. Our Time hopes to accelerate that mission.

“It’s inspiring to see movie stars and media celebrities talk about the terrible incidents they have faced in their workplaces,” said Veronica Lagunas, a janitor in Los Angeles and a member of SEIU-United Service Workers West (USSW). “A lot of us who earn a regular paycheck face the same problems, like sexual assault and physical and verbal abuse. It’s our turn to unite and take action to stop the abuse and hold abusers accountable.”

The Our Turn alliance will unite workers, community allies and organizations across the country in fights for new protections against abuse and harassment in union contracts, state laws, municipal ordinances and company policies. Organizations in the coalition have pledged to support workplace, community and political organizing; advocate for laws and policies that protect workers and provide tools for prevention of abuse and harassment; elevate stories of workers who have fought back against abuse; and hold government agencies and employers accountable for harassment and violence in workplaces they oversee.

“Low-wage workers are fed up. We are saying ‘we will not tolerate abuse as a condition of earning a living,” said NCOSH co-executive director Jessica Martinez. “Every worker—regardless of race, gender, income or sexual orientation—has a fundamental right to a workplace free from abuse and harassment.”


Alicia Kay is a former editorial intern at Ms. and a freelance writer and photographer. Her writing has appeared at Rooster Global News Network, Jump Magazine and The Radical Notion; her photography has appeared in The Temple News, Jump Philly and Three Teaspoons of Sugar and a Hint of Milk by Ileena Irving. She was a finalist in the Nature Visions Photography Student Contest 2015. Alicia has a myriad of public speaking experience, including speaking at the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference and presenting research papers at the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting and the U.S. Department of Education.