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Undermining Excluded Worker solidarity reflects anti-Blackness

Photo: Members of the Excluded Worker coalition from No Justice No Pride and HIPS speaking out for the needs of sex workers at the Don’t Exclude Me rally.   By Eliana Rondon, DC JWJ Organizer Excluded workers consist of tens of thousands of DC residents—including those who are undocumented, sex workers, day laborers, and returning citizens. Excluded workers have all been locked out of unemployment benefits and other cash assistance. Despite our advocacy to include all individuals being locked out, Chairman Mendelson  insists that the  funds intended for all excluded workers to undocumented workers only. The DC Council must amend the Budget Support Act to include all excluded worker.  Undocumented excluded workers only account for part of the communities we are fighting for. The  undocumented residents in DC includes many races. However, of the US-born excluded workers are overwhelmingly Black. When solutions for excluded workers only include undocumented workers, it excludes Black excluded workers from the funds. The Council continues to refer to the excluded workers’ funds as only intended for undocumented residents, despite the fact undocumented individuals are not the only communities excluded. Reducing the language from excluded worker to undocutoment worker disregards the needs of DC Black communities. The language used by the council is anti- black and demonstrates systematic racism. Anti-Blackness means more than just racism against Black people. It’s a structure that demonstrates society’s inability to recognize  the humanity of Blacks. Anti-Blackness voids Blackness of value, while systematically diminishing Black people and their problems.    Underneath this anti-Black racism is the covert structural and systemic racism, which systematically  mandates the socioeconomic status of Blacks in America. The... read more

DC JWJ statement on SCOTUS decision ending LGBT discrimination in the workplace

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled to protect transgender and queer people from discrimination at work. As a worker justice organization that recognizes the intersections of our struggles, we breathe a sigh of relief and then take a deep breath to acknowledge there is more to do. We affirm that Black Lives Matter and center the precarity of the lives of Black trans women. We hold of up the names of Ashanti Carmon and Zoe Spears, two Black trans women who were murdered this year just outside of Washington, DC. On this 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots and in “pride month,” we recognize that it is the fearless organizing and visibility of and by trans and queer people of color that have led us to this moment. At DC JWJ, we believe that there is no place for discrimination of queer, trans, and gender nonconforming workers. And of course, simply preventing discrimination is not enough. Workplaces must be welcoming. Policies must reflect our diverse families. Solidarity must include all gender identities and expressions. We know that our bodies, hearts, and minds are our own, and do not belong to the courts or laws to define. For too long, our legal system has not protected queer and trans people, instead criminalizing and punishing. DC JWJ is proud to stand with the trans women of color who are leading the Decrim Now campaign to decriminalize sex work in Washington,... read more

DC JWJ statement on wage theft settlement at Matchbox

DC Jobs With Justice applauds Attorney General Racine and his office for ensuring Matchbox workers are fairly paid. Unfortunately, wage theft is rampant in the restaurant industry, including in well respected establishments like Matchbox. Nationally and within the District, bussers tend to be Latinx immigrants, who face additional barriers to accessing fairness in the workplace. The OAG has demonstrated once again a commitment to strategic enforcement of DC’s labor laws by focusing enforcement action on key industries where wage theft is widespread, expanding individual complaints to company-wide investigations, and pursuing large companies. We are glad that to see that 100 workers have been made whole, and look forward to the day when wage theft is over in Washington,... read more

Don’t Exclude Me

DC Excluded Workers Need $30 Million to Survive the Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic RSVP to the Don’t Exclude Me action June 29th – 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM – Freedom Plaza DC is home to over 30,000 residents we know cannot access federal assistance through unemployment insurance and/or the federal stimulus. The DC FY21 budget must include cash assistance for those excluded by the federal government so that they too can survive the prolonged health and economic crisis through next year. DC is Home to Workers in Dire Need of Support Tens of thousands of DC residents are excluded from federal unemployment insurance (UI) relief efforts. This includes undocumented workers, day laborers, sex workers, street vendors, people doing hair out of their homes, returning citizens, and other informal economy workers. The vast majority of these DC residents are low-income workers who do not have the savings needed to get by without work for many months. Excluded workers are overwhelmingly Black and immigrant residents who have also been among the hardest hit by COVID-19. Cash Assistance is Urgently Needed for Excluded Workers In late March, Congress passed a measure that softened COVID-19’s economic blow to millions of Americans, including one-time direct payments of up to $1,200 for most adults and an additional $500 for each child under age 17. Congress also approved four months of federally-funded Unemployment Insurance (UI) payments of $600 per week that will be in addition to state UI benefits that jobless workers receive. In addition, they established Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)—a program for people who are ineligible for UI, such as those who have... read more

DC JWJ COVID Webinars – April 2020

English Webinar: DC JWJ’s most recent webinar with Bread for the City, Working Families Party, Legal Aid Society of DC, DC Kincare Alliance, and DC Fiscal Policy Institute. video Recent federal and local legislation have made important changes such as: Expanded unemployment benefits Changes to how we access federal assistance New protections against technology cut-offs New procedures for elections   Informacion en espanol DC Trabajos con Justicia/DC Jobs with Justice, Mary’s Center, Washington Lawyers Committee y Bread for the City presenta informacion importante para la comunidad. vídeo Los temas incluyen: – nuevas protecciones para los residentes de DC – cómo acceder a la asistencia del gobierno – cómo cuidarse y detener la propagación del coronavirus – cómo participar en las elecciones de DC para ciudadanos... read more

Open Letter to Mayor Bowser: cash assistance urgently needed

Dear Mayor Bowser, Our residents need assistance. Our organizations touch thousands of workers who are being left to fend for themselves as part of a community response to the deadly and fast-moving Coronavirus. Cash assistance now will stem a humanitarian disaster and mitigate racial inequities that are rising as a result of the pandemic. Excluded workers include tens of thousands of immigrant families and other workers. These people make DC work. They care for children and grandparents so others can go to their offices, they clean hotel rooms to make our hospitality sector strong, they power our new development by constructing our buildings, they keep our offices clean overnight, they wash dishes and keep bars stocked so we can enjoy our cocktails and DC’s fine dining. They are active members of the DC community. It is a matter of racial equity that we ensure these residents can access cash assistance. The population that is not covered by cash assistance is almost exclusively Black and Brown residents. Any negative impacts stemming from the lack of income and assistance will hurt not only these adults, but their children as well, further disadvantaging them. We need a response that is bigger than any of our organizations can do alone. This is the role only government can fill. The federal government has left our neighbors behind. But we cannot. The impact of local assistance to our neighbors will be multiplied. It will help our neighbors Stay Home DC and limit the need to seek informal work, leave safe housing, or leave home to access information. It will circulate in the local economy, keeping... read more

Still Excluded

We are very disappointed that DC leaders have made no commitments to provide cash assistance to DC workers who are ineligible for unemployment benefits. As a result, the workers who built our restaurant, hospitality, construction, home care, and other industries are left with no government resources to turn to. It is a matter of life or death for our communities that these workers stay home. And they are. It is also a matter of life or death if we support them. Without the ability to access assistance, workers and their families will return to work in the informal economy, be forced out of their homes and into homelessness and overcrowding, suffer from poor nutrition, and more. We can not ask our community to #StayHomeDC and do nothing to ensure that they can safely do so. Right now, excluded families are relying on informal networks, compassionate volunteers, and the generosity of strangers. Those resources simply do not match the scale of aid that DC government could provide. And the government, not good neighbors, should be responsible for the well being of our whole community. DC has built powerful industries on the backs of workers who have been made invisible and are regularly excluded. In all cases, that is an injustice. In this case, it is unconscionable. Estamos muy decepcionados de que los líderes de DC no se hayan comprometido a proporcionar asistencia en efectivo a los trabajadores de DC que no son elegibles para beneficios de desempleo. Como resultado, los trabajadores que construyeron nuestro restaurante, hospitalidad, construcción, cuidado del hogar y otras industrias no tienen recursos gubernamentales. Es una cuestión... read more

Cash assistance is critical to our neighbors

URGENT ACTION: EMAIL AND CALL TODAY Email Mayor Bowser and Chairman Mendelson EMAIL NOW Call Mayor Bowser – you may need to try more than one of the following numbers: (202) 727-2643 (202) 727-2600 (202) 478-9200 (202) 442-8119 (202) 664-7512 Message: Mayor Bowser, the federal government will not take care of all the members of our community. We have to. Please commit $5 million for cash assistance to those who have been left behind. Add your personal story. Social media: Images and sample tweets here MORE INFORMATION Labor unions, faith community, service providers, community organizations, and concerned neighbors  call on Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to make individual grants available to residents facing financial hardship. We call on Mayor Bowser to make $5 million available to DC residents who are ineligible for other cash assistance, and for the DC Council to legislate it’s use. We encourage you to make cash assistance available to residents who will not be able to access federal assistance or unemployment benefits. We were very disappointed to learn that funding for excluded workers which had been included in the bill circulated to the DC Council on Friday, has been fully removed from the more recent version circulated last night.  These “excluded workers” include tens of thousands of immigrant families and other workers.  These people make DC work, but their work is sometimes invisible. They care for children and grandparents so others can go out of the home to work, they clean hotel rooms to make our hospitality sector strong, they power our new development by constructing our buildings, they keep our offices clean overnight, they wash dishes... read more

Urgent Need: Cash Assistance for Excluded Workers

We urge Mayor Bowser and DC Council need to provide cash assistance to DC residents who cannot work, access unemployment benefits, and/or receive federal stimulus assistance. We call this group “excluded workers.” DC government should use the programs and infrastructure that already exists to get assistance to as many excluded workers as possible. DC government must also make grant funding available – with the ability to subgrant – to local nonprofits to meet the needs of people disconnected from government services. Take Action Now. Send an email with these needs and solutions to members of the DC Council and Mayor Bowser’s office.  Link to letter here. Mendelson: Silverman: Robert White: Grosso: Bonds: Nadeau: Cheh: Todd: McDuffie: Allen: Gray: Trayon White: Solutions: Create a benefit that mirrors Unemployment Assistance that is available to people who do not have Social Security or Alien Registration Numbers There are thousands of DC residents and workers who have documented income but do not have the ability to access unemployment. In fact, these workers have even had Unemployment Insurance paid on their behalf, but cannot access the current system. DC should make unemployment benefits available using a model similar to the one under development in New Jersey. The new program regulations should allow for ITIN or other means of identifying workers that does not rely on SSN and ARN Use existing government programs to provide cash and food assistance to residents in need The DC Healthcare Alliance is the of the... read more


Show your solidarity: wear a mask / Muestre su solidaridad: use una máscara

Whenever you are around folks outside of your household you should wear a mask and social distance. This is especially true when you go to work or enter someone else’s workplace. Here are a few more tips for workplace COVID safety: Wear a mask, masks are crucial to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. Your employer must provide you with a mask. You and your coworkers should not come into work if experiencing COVID symptoms. Remember workers in DC have a right to paid sick days. Your workplace must require everyone to wear masks, including customers. Your employer can not retaliate against you for refusing to serve or work with an individual who refuses to wear a mask. If you or a friend or family member are being made to work in unsafe conditions or denied their right to paid sick days please reach out to me at   Siempre que esté cerca de personas fuera de su hogar, debe usar una máscara y distancia social. Esto es especialmente cierto cuando va a trabajar o ingresa al lugar de trabajo de otra persona. Aquí hay algunos consejos más para la seguridad COVID en el lugar de trabajo: Use una mascarilla, las mascarillas son cruciales para ayudar a prevenir la propagación de COVID-19. Su empleador debe proporcionarle una máscara. Usted y sus compañeros de trabajo no deben ir a trabajar si experimentan síntomas de COVID. Recuerde que los trabajadores en DC tienen derecho a días pagados por enfermedad. Su lugar de trabajo debe exigir que todos usen máscaras, incluidos los clientes. Su empleador no puede tomar represalias contra usted por negarse a trabajar con una persona que se niega a usar una máscara.   Si a usted,... read more

I’ll Be There Awards 2020 – Virtual

Here are all the details you need to know to join the awards: I’ll Be There Awards 2020 Wednesday, November 18th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM. Zoom Link:* *this link will take you directly to the event zoom which will open on Wednesday at 5:50 PM Please try to join the zoom 5 minutes beforehand in case you have any issues with Zoom. If you do have any technical issues please get in touch with Nikko at or text/call 202-285-8753. See you on Wednesday! Every year our I’ll Be There awards are a chance to come together, honor some of the outstanding leaders in our work, and remind ourselves of our values as a community. It is our single largest event of the year, and our most important community gathering.  This year, we will recognize powerful community leaders and campaigns that fight for justice in Washington, DC. Excluded Workers Direct Action leaders Makia Green Restore the Vote UFCW 400 Giant and Safeway workers Tamika Spellman   This year we’ll gather in the midst of some of our most challenging times as a city. In the year ahead our work will be more important than ever before. We are ready to rise to that occasion and we want you to be with us. Register to Attend – FREE   This year’s event will take place online and to help make it as accessible as possible, we decided to make it completely free! However, as our largest community event of the year I’ll Be There is still a crucial part of how we sustain our work. If you are able to at this time,... read more

Letter in Support of Worker Safety Bill

  Earlier today DC JWJ alongside a coalition of unions, worker justice organizations, and community organizations urged the council to pass the Protecting Businesses and Workers from Covid-19 Emergency Amendment Act of 2020. We the undersigned unions, worker justice organizations, and community organizations urge you to support the Protecting Businesses and Workers from Covid-19 Emergency Amendment Act of 2020. It is imperative that the DC Council act swiftly to pass this emergency legislation to ensure that the District can begin a safe and strong recovery. When workers are safe our community is safe. A crucial component of a strong recovery is a sense of safety when DC residents go to work, shop, or dine out. We applaud the Mayor’s decision to require employers to provide face masks but more action is needed. This bill provides a basic set of protections to ensure that every District workplace takes the proper precautions to safeguard community health and the economy. A safe return to work requires more than masks. In order for our members to feel safe at work they need all of the protections enacted by this law. Our members must have access to hand sanitizer, face shields, and plexiglass barriers when they can not be socially distanced. They also need to know that they are protected from retaliation for asking their employer to provide PPE or refusing to serve a customer who is not wearing a mask. Finally we appreciate that the bill allows both the Mayor and the Office of the Attorney General to carry out enforcement actions. For many of the District’s most vulnerable workers this bill could mean... read more