RELEASE: Major Civil Rights Organizations in New Jersey Join Campaign to Advocate for App-Based Workers

Friday, June 25, 2021

NEW JERSEY — The New Jersey Coalition for Independent Work announced that the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, the New Jersey Council of Urban Leagues and New Jersey-based chapters of National Action Network (NAN) have joined the campaign to help elevate the voices and needs of New Jersey’s independent app-based workers as well as the communities and businesses that rely on them. 

App-based work has become an essential source of income for many Black and Brown New Jerseyans who were left behind without financial security in the traditional job market during the height of the pandemic. In fact, app-based work has become one of the largest sources of income due to the many advantages for people who come from more vulnerable backgrounds. As such, app-based work, and the right to choose independent, flexible work has become a major civil rights issue at both the state and national level.

The NAACP New Jersey State Conference, New Jersey Urban League Chapters and New Jersey-based chapters of National Action Network (NAN) are joining the New Jersey Coalition to strengthen advocacy and amplify the voices of Black and Brown people who have chosen app-based work as an avenue of financial growth and stability.

“The rise of the gig economy has put the right to independent work under the spotlight by expanding the way we perceive work, and its role has grown since the height of COVID-19,” said Richard T. Smith, President of the NAACP NJ State Conference. “The state and federal government must find ways of giving app-based workers the health and security benefits they deserve and need without jeopardizing their ability to choose how, when and where to work.”

“Economic issues are civil rights issues and without financial liquidity our communities can’t thrive and move forward. A solid economic foundation is key for success, which is why we must safeguard any opportunity that helps us prosper,” Smith added.

“Some of the most significant post-COVID challenges will include rethinking our workspaces, increasing financial independence and ensuring social benefits and protections for all workers, and finding more ways in which local economies can better people of color,” said Vivian Fraser Cox, President, New Jersey Council of Urban Leagues and president and CEO of the Urban League of Essex County. “None of this can be done without prioritizing the communities’ needs first, and ensuring the economy adapts and evolves as the needs of the workers evolve as well,” she added.

The New Jersey Council of Urban Leagues includes the following chapters:

  • Urban League for Bergen County
  • Urban League of Essex County
  • Urban League of Hudson County
  • Urban League of Morris County
  • Urban League of Union County
  • Civic League of Greater New Brunswick

“App-based work has become a lifeline for communities of color that depend on additional sources of income to make a living,” said Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Steffie Bartley, Sr., a founding member of the coalition and Northeast Regional Director of National Action Network (NAN). “Protecting app-based work is just one way we can help communities of color sustain themselves and their families during the economic recovery. NAN is very excited to be joining fellow civil rights organizations to continue working to ensure people of color who benefit from independent work can keep taking advantage of it while getting access to the social benefits they deserve.“

The seven New Jersey-based NAN chapters that have joined the Coalition include:

  • Greater Newark Chapter
  • Irvington Chapter
  • Central Jersey/ Neptune Chapter
  • Jersey City Chapter
  • Monmouth/ Ocean County Chapter
  • Passaic and Bergen County Chapter
  • South Jersey Chapter 

The Coalition is committed to protecting the independence and flexibility of app-based workers while finding solutions to improve their access to benefits and other workforce protections. The Coalition also seeks to expand opportunities for workers across all demographics, ethnicities and backgrounds. Members of the Coalition include community, faith-based, business and tech organizations. 

Learn more about the New Jersey Coalition for Independent Work at



    Flexible Work for New Jersey
    Flexible Work for New Jersey