Fall 2008 Newsletter

rnIn this issue:rn* Public Sector Workers Under Attack. DC JwJ Stands Up, Fights Back.rn* Profiles of Solidarity: Two Leaders Who Are Helping to Build DC JwJ.rn* Gerry Brittain Education Project Launches.rn* Facing What Divides Us: Building Alliances Across Cultures.rn* Help Build the Movement for Workers’ Rights: Become a Sustainer! Visit https://secure.ga6.org/08/Dcdonate.rn rn_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________rnrnPUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS UNDER ATTACK. DC JWJ STANDS UP, FIGHTS BACK.rnrnJust days after the tragic story of Banita Jacks and her children hit DC’s media headlines, Mayor Adrian Fenty fired six social workers at the Child and Family Services Agency. The firings were carried out without an investigation. Last month, an arbitrator concluded that the workers had been fired unjustly and ordered the city to reinstate the workers with back pay and benefits. rnrnChild and Family Service is not the only city service undermined by Fenty’s high-profile scapegoating. This summer, the city announced that 60 principals and assistant principals would not be reappointed in the new school year. With no job and no access to unemployment benefits (technically they were not laid off) many administrators were forced to retire early. Simultaneously, the city fired 70 classroom aides without cause, further disrupting the academic process and creating a shortfall for this academic year.rnrnSince coming into power, Fenty’s administration has scapegoated union workers for problems which are structural in nature in an attempt to undermine the public sector and set the stage for outsourcing work and city funds to private companies . Currently, 20 percent of the city’s budget goes to contractors and this number is expected to rise. The city is paying millions of dollars to the consulting corporation KPMG to evaluate whether the private sector is willing and able to provide direct public health services. These actions fit into a national and international trend of forcing structural adjustments that undermine public services and public employees. rnrnOn Thursday, November 20th 2008, DC Jobs with Justice and the Metro Washington AFL-CIO will be organizing a Workers’ Rights Board Hearing to respond to these attacks by the Fenty Administration in city workers and city services. Workers, union reps and community members will testify on the impact of these practices before a board of faith and community leaders, public officials and academics. Panels will focus on public health and education, and city administrators have been invited to defend themselves. The goal of the hearing is to develop a set of recommendations that will support the fight of city employees and the unions representing city employees to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect. The Hearing is free and open to the public and will run from 6:30pm to 9:00pm. rnrn_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________rnrn rnPROFILES OF SOLIDARITY MEET TWO LEADERS WHO ARE BUILDING DC JWJ! rnrnMichael Harris, President, CWA Local 2336.rnrnMichael Harris learned about standing up for justice from his father, a union member and minister who worked alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When Mike moved to the DC area in 1982 to work for the telephone company, it wasn’t long before he stepped up as a shop steward in Communications Workers of America Local 2336. His leadership only grew over time-as a strike captain, elected board member, and finally President of the local. Mike is committed to DC JwJ because he’s seen the power of solidarity in action.. “We went through a tough summer with our contract negotiations,” Mike said. “You need something to keep you going. DC JwJ did a lot for us, and that helped to keep us moving forward.” After months at the bargaining table and in the streets, CWA won a major victory in August when Verizon settled a contract that not only preserves good health benefits and boosts wages and pensions, but will create new union jobs in growth areas like FiOS and reduce practices like subcontracting and use of temporary workers. CWA and DC JwJ have partnered on the Connect-DC campaign to hold Verizon accountable for creating quality jobs and providing quality service in DC.rnrnJorge Ortiz, Leader, Union de Trabajadores rnrnSince January, DC JwJ has been supporting the development of the Union de Trabajadores de Washington DC, a worker-led organization of day laborers. Jorge Ortiz is one of the leaders how has been working to build unity among day laborers, organize to defend their rights, and create better relationships with the community. Since moving here from Guatemala in search of greater economic opportunity, Jorge has often waited for work in the parking lot of the Home Depot on Rhode Island Ave, NE along with dozens of other job seekers. “Day laborers need a lot of character to stand on the corner where we face uncertainty, poverty, and despair,” Jorge said. “People who hire us know our legal status and know that most of us are not aware of our labor rights or do not know where to look for support. Psychologically, it is hard to stand on a corner feeling socially and economically abandoned to a system that has no mercy for immigrant workers.” Jorge has been involved with the recent Union de Trabajadores membership drive, as well as a worker-led soccer tournament and neighborhood clean-up. He was one of three members of the Union de Trabajadores who were part of the DC delegation to the JwJ National Conference. “I found out in Providence that we have the support of American brothers with experience in the struggle for the dignity of working people,” Jorge said. “Now I know there is hope.”rn_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________rnrn rnGERRY BRITTAIN EDUCATION PROJECT LAUNCHEDrnrnThis fall DC Jobs with Justice launched the Gerry Brittain Education Project, an initiative designed to strengthen local organizing and build power among working people in DC. Named in honor of Geraldine “Gerry” Brittain, social worker and longtime Gray Panther activist, GBEP incorporates skill building and political education into two-hour monthly trainings. It’s an opportunity for activists to come together, share skills, sharpen our organizing toolkit, develop new leaders and, of course, have fun!rnUsing popular education techniques, facilitators encourage participants to reflect on their own experiences, strategize on how to take action and evaluate their strategies. Trainings are free and open to the public but space is limited. To register for a training or get an updated schedule visit our website: www.dcjwj.org! rnrnUpcoming trainings:rnOctober 14: Grassroots Fundraising, Part 2.rnOctober 28: Unions 101- how to form a union.rnNovember 11: Unions 201- working with unions.rnNovember 25: How DC government works.rnDecember 10: DC as a human rights city.rn_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________rnrnFACING WHAT DIVIDES US: BUILDING UNITY ACROSS CULTURES. rnrnFor more than half a century, Washington, DC has served as a magnet for people fleeing economic and national oppression. The 1940s saw tens of thousands of African Americans migrate to DC in search of opportunities denied to them in the deep South. Their odyssey was part of the one of the largest internal migrations in history. Today, migrants continue to flow into the District in search of the same dreams that prompted African Americans to pull up stakes and come to the city. The difference is that this new generation of migrants is primarily from outside the US, often from countries whose economic and social structures have been turned upside down by US intervention.rnrnAs DC’s demographics shift, employers and city policy makers are using “divide and conquer” tactics to pit newrnimmigrants against the children and grandchildren of those who migrated to the city in the 1940s in a struggle for limited resources. Language, ethnicity and nationality are being manipulated to divide communities, control labor and undermine workers’ rights. rnrnFacing What Divides Us: Building Unity Across Cultures” is a collaborative education project between members of the Fair Budget Coalition and DC Jobs with Justice. Using a popular education format that draws from participants’ own experiences, Facing What Divides Us” seeks to create a safe space for stakeholders to express their feelings, examine the divisions between our Black and Brown Communities, analyze the root causes of that division, and share tools that you can use in your organizational efforts to find common ground. Interested in hosting a training? Contact DC JwJ.rn_____________________________________________________________________rnrnBECOME A SUSTAINER, HELP BUILD THE MOVEMENT FOR WORKERS’ RIGHTS IN DC.rnrnImagine a city where the needs of people are more important than the needs of corporations. Where tax payer’s money is spent on providing services to those in need rather than tax abatements for big box stores. And where public workers are valued for their service rather than blamed for structural problems. You can help make this dream a reality by becoming a monthly sustainer today! Visit https://secure.ga6.org/08/Dcdonate. rnrnThis month, news of an impending budget upheaval hit the headlines. As a leading voice for workers’ rights in the District, DC Jobs with Justice is committed to ensuring that the budget is not balanced on the backs of working people. By contributing $20, $15 or $10 a month you make a direct investment in the fight for social and economic justice right here, in the Nation’s capital. rn· $20 a month pays for an organizing intern.rn· $15 a month sponsors a Workers’ Rights Board Hearing.rn· $10 a month helps us to plan a creative action.rnWith your support, we can make a difference.rnrn_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________rnrnDC Jobs with Justice (DC JwJ) is a leading voice for workers’ rights in the Nation’s capital. As a coalition of 34 local labor, community, faith and student organizations DC JwJ is uniquely placed to effectively support worker and community struggles. Founded in 2001, DC JwJ has helped tens of thousands of workers organize unions and win fair contracts; pushed through a living wage law, inclusionary zoning, and paid sick and safe days legislation to ensure good jobs and affordable housing for DC residents; campaigned for corporate accountability; and most recently, directly organized low-income contingent workers to defend their rights. Through our Workers’ Rights Board, Interfaith Worker Justice Committee, Student Labor Action Project, Building Benefits Network and Member Education Project, we mobilize members to take action, win concrete victories and build a movement for the rights of working people. Membership in the coalition is open to all DC-based, grassroots organizations that share our vision for social and economic justice. We also welcome individuals to join us in building a local movement for justice by joining our Activist Network.rn

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