The University of Iowa

Forging Hope for Good Jobs and Racial Justice

January 16th, 2013

Feb. 9 conference will explore community initiatives to confront inequality

Advocates from Iowa immigrant, labor, faith, and racial justice groups will come together with members of the university community for an upcoming one-day conference, “Forging Hope: Local Alliances for Good Jobs and Racial Justice.”

The conference will be held Saturday, Feb. 9, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the University Capitol Centre (Old Capitol Mall), Room 2520D, on the University of Iowa campus.

Conference attendees will learn about the growing national movement of community-based workers' centers and how these centers are empowering low-wage workers to organize across race and immigration status for civil rights and economic justice.

Saket Soni, the executive director of the National Guestworker Alliance and the New Orleans Workersʹ Center for Racial Justice, will present a keynote address titled “Organizing ‘Excluded Workers’ for Racial and Economic Justice: Lessons from New Orleans.”

A recognized expert on low-wage worker issues and frequent guest on national talk shows, Soni is also co-author of “And Injustice For All: Workers’ Lives In the Reconstruction,” the most comprehensive report on race in the reconstruction of the post-Katrina Gulf Coast, and “Never Again: Lessons of the Gustav Evacuation,” an account of the treatment of African Americans in the sheltering process.  

Other panel sessions and workshops will bring conference themes home to Iowa, with speakers addressing experiences of low-wage and immigrant workers in Iowa, statewide economic trends, and community coalition efforts under way in the region, specifically focusing on the roles of diverse constituencies.

This conference is free and open to the public. Lunch is available for participants who register by Feb. 4, by phoning 319-335-4144 or e-mailing

Sponsors of the conference include the UI Labor Center, UI Center for Human Rights, UI International Programs, Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, U.S. Dept. of Justice, and Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

For more information, contact Sarah Clark at or 319-335-4144.