Northwest Forest Worker Center/Promotora Program

Empowering forest workers and harvesters of non-timber forest products in northern California, Oregon and Washington to improve their lives and livelihoods

For over 20 years, the Medford-based nonprofit Northwest Forest Worker Center has served hundreds of Rogue Valley forest workers with resources and counsel around safety and workplace rights.

Now, the Center’s legacy continues on as a program of Ashland-based nonprofit Lomakatsi Restoration Project.

The Rogue Valley is home to one of the most active forestry and wildfire protection services industries in the country. Dozens of forestry companies employ hundreds of workers on a daily basis, who work on public and private lands across Southern Oregon and beyond, reducing hazardous fuel loads to reduce the risk of severe wildfire.

This important work often comes at a cost—forest workers are at high risk of injury and are 9 times more likely to be killed on the job than the average Oregon worker. Unfortunately, despite the hazards, most contractors do not provide adequate safety training for their work crews. Additionally, forest workers are often paid less than a living wage, with few if any benefits.

The Center started the Promotora Program 10 years ago to provide forest workers with practical information they can use right away to keep themselves safe on the job. Their Promotoras de Salud (or Community Health Workers), have since met hundreds of forests workers around the community to deliver trainings and offer safety resources, primarily in Spanish.

In 2019, talks began between the Center and Lomakatsi around a merger to further mutual goals, pool resources, and take advantage of Lomakatsi’s capacity in administration, workforce training and communications. Lomakatsi was seen as a natural fit, as a longtime partner of the Center with a reputation for raising the bar around treatment of forest workers, and a foundational commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

Northwest Forest Worker Center/Promotora Program Under Lomakatsi

Lomakatsi is excited to continue the important work of the Northwest Forest Worker Center and the Promotora Program and give a voice to the hundreds of Latinx forest workers who work in the woods on a daily basis to reduce the risk of wildfire, enhance wildlife habitat, and make the Rogue Valley a safer place to live. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Promotoras are focusing on additional safety trainings based around the protocols Lomakatsi developed for our own workforce.

Our vision is a forest sector that…
  • Treats forest workers and harvesters with dignity and fairness regardless of cultural background, country of origin, immigration status, race, gender or any other social category
  • Permits workers and harvesters to participate in decisions that directly affect their lives and livelihoods
  • Respects the skill and ecological knowledge workers and harvesters contribute to forest stewardship
  • Restores and/or maintains forest health
Our work focuses on…
  • Educating workers and harvesters, policy makers, agency officials, employers and landowners about worker rights, fair working conditions, and environmental ethics
  • Recognizing, valuing and expanding worker and harvester skills in stewarding the land
  • Facilitating multiparty monitoring of forest practices, working conditions, policy implementation and conditions on the land
  • Facilitating worker and harvester input into informing forest resource decision making, planning and policy implementation
  • Seeking enforcement of applicable labor laws and changing and/or developing new laws to achieve our mission and vision
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