The DC Workers’ Union (Union de Trabajadores de Washington DC) celebrated its annual end of the year party last Thursday at Foundry United Methodist Church. Over 80 day laborers, volunteers and DC JwJ allies came together to break bread, share culture and music, celebrate recent victories and the elect a new leadership.rnrn”We had an extremely busy Fall,” said Pedro Cruz, DC JwJ’s day laborer organizer. “We developed a direct hiring line, ESL program and a organized a very successful soccer tournament. Next year we will continue to focus on issues affecting day laborers, including wage theft.” rnrnThe District’s day laborers are facing a wage theft crisis. Every day workers are denied their fair wages. They are misclassified as contractors, denied pay for overtime work, paid below-minimum wage, paid less than agreed, paid with bad checks, and sometimes not paid at all. As the state area with the second highest poverty rate in the country, Washington DC is right in the thick of this wage theft crisis, a crisis inflated by the financial meltdown. Almost two thirds of day laborers and homeless workers in DC have experienced wage theft over the past year and current protections are inadequate. rnrnThrough labor-community solidarity DC JwJ is well-placed to effectively challenge wage theft through:rnrn1. Unionization. Unions are key to preventing wage theft because they protect workers’ rights and create a counterbalance to management’s control. rnrn2. Establishing a Workers’ Center for non-union workers. By educating workers about their rights, connecting workers to contractors, vetting employers and developing a fair hiring program, a workers’ center can protect our city’s most vulnerable contingent workers. rnrn3. Policy reforms that protect workers, including giving DC’s Wage and Hour Office the teeth necessary to enforce wage regulations and prosecute violations. rnrnThank you to DC JwJ member organizations, supporters and allied who have contributed to this campaign in so many ways. Click here to check out the photos.If you are interested in volunteering this upcoming year contact us at Holidays!rnrn