Public Justice Center Lawsuit Seeks Wage Justice for Staffing Agency Employees

Press Release: October 24, 2012 Contact: Sally Dworak-Fisher or Alexandra Rosenblatt at 410-625-9409 Silver Spring, MD – The Public Justice Center has filed suit on behalf of employees of Bethesda-based staffing agency WMS Solutions, LLC to recover the wages that the company illegally withheld to pay for asbestos workers’ training, health, and equipment costs, and to recover the out-of-pocket funds that employees paid for their own trainings, equipment and/or medical exams. The plaintiffs are also demanding WMS pay its employees for their work attending mandatory trainings and to compensate them at overtime rates when they work more than forty hours in a week. At the time of filing, 36 WMS workers had already filed notices to join the lawsuit, and many more are expected. WMS Solutions, LLC provides temporary workers to construction contractors working in the asbestos, lead, and mold abatement industries. By unlawfully passing along to the workers a significant portion of the enormous costs associated with high employee turnover in these industries, WMS is able to enjoy an illegal competitive advantage over firms that abide by the law while workers foot the bill. “This suit alleges that WMS has unlawfully failed to pay its workers for all work they have performed, and that they have unlawfully required workers to pay for their own health and safety-related costs,” said Public Justice Center Attorney Sally Dworak-Fisher. Former WMS asbestos workers had to pay for his asbestos abatement training and safety equipment out of his own pocket, despite the fact that the law requires the company to provide both free of charge. “I have been forced to pay hundreds of...

Paid Sick Days For All

Imagine that you work in a restaurant to support your family. One day you wake up feeling awful. Lying in bed, you realize that if you don’t go to work, you’re not going to be able to pay the rent. Even worse, imagine that you are healthy, but your young child is sick. Can you afford to take the day off to care for him? Or will you send him to school while you work, and just hope he gets better? This scenerio is all too real for thousands of workers in DC. In 2008, Washington, D.C. passed a groundbreaking law allowing many workers in the District of Columbia to take paid time off to recover from illness or instances of domestic violence. However, this law does not cover everyone. Tipped restaurant workers were excluded from the law, even though these workers can still get sick and spread illness to others. Nearly 80% of restaurant workers cannot earn paid sick days, and as a result, almost 60% of restaurant workers in the District reported preparing, cooking, and serving food while sick. This increases the health risks to workers and consumers. Food is not sustainable without sustainable jobs for food workers. JUFJ is working as a part of the Paid Sick Days for All Coalition to demand justice from our favorite restaurants. Join the Paid Sick Days for All campaign to ensure that no worker has to choose between taking care of their health and earning a day’s pay. Healthy Workers, Healthy Businesses, A Healthy...

Keep Wings Off The African American Museum

Today, dozens of members from the Justice at Wings Coalition – a coalition of faith, labor, civil and human rights organizations fighting to protect the labor rights of iron workers at Wings Enterprises – gathered across the main offices of the Smithsonian Institution demanding them to keep Wings off the upcoming National Museum of African American History and Culture. “We’ll not cease targeting the Smithsonian Institution until there is assurance that Wings Enterprises will not work at the African American Museum,” explained Mr. Ronnell Howard, one of the workers on strike from Wings Enterprises when talking to Linda St. Thomas, a spokesperson from the Smithsonian Institution. “I worked for Wings for four years and regardless of my hard work, Wings underpaid me, owing me over 10 thousand dollars. As an African- American and member of this community, I would be offended if the Smithsonian allows a company with such a bad record build the African American museum.” At the forefront of the Justice at Wings Coalition are workers who have been on strike from Wings since October 2009, protesting Wings’ history of safety problems, including violations of OSHA regulations; low wages on private projects; violations of laws that mandate good wages on public projects; and retaliation against workers who want to improve conditions; among other issues. Picture: Left to Right: workers on strike from Wings Ronnell Howard, Executive Director of DC Jobs with Justice Nikki Daruwala, Rev. John Graham from Grace Presbyterian Church in DC, and labor organizer from Local 201 JC Recinos. For example, Wings was cited twice by the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES) for Davis-Bacon...

Justice at Wings at the Smithsonian

The Justice at Wings coalition needs your support Thursday, August 2nd at 8am. They are targeting the Smithsonian Institution for not standing up for workers. The Coalition knows that Wings Enterprises is trying to work at the African American Museum project. The Coalition approached the Smithsonian and provided them with the binder of evidence showing that Wings has a history of labor and OSHA violations. Their response was simple: we are leaving everything up to our general contractors Clark/Smoot/Russell. This response is unacceptable; indeed, very disappointing. PLAN:  The Justice at Wings Coalition as they demand leadership from the Smithsonian on the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Coalition will have an action in front of the office of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Mr. Wayne Clough. DATE: Thursday August 2 at 8AM LOCATION: Smithsonian Institution on 1000 Jefferson Dr SW DC 20560. This is a few steps away from the Smithsonian metro station. For more information contact: Natali Fani-González, Office: 202.787.1813...

Growing Dream City: A Report on Grassroots Organizing in the District in 2011

by Andrew Willis Garcés and Mackenzie Baris, with contributions by many others Read previous reports: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 rn INDEX+ 2011 SNAPSHOT + Education & Youth + Gender Justice + Police & Criminal Justice + Immigrant Rights & Language Justice+ Labor & Workers+ Housing & Development+ Budget & Community Benefits  2011 SNAPSHOT DC’S 99% PLANT SEEDS, CULTIVATE HUMAN ECONOMY Facing a perennially corrupt and ineffective local government and several years of national bank bailouts for the 1%, DC change-makers turned to each other. Grassroots projects to create a human economy took off in 2011. The two Occupy DC** encampments churned out hundreds of free, daily meals and provided basic medical care and a library for hundreds of visitors, including some who had been recently laid off or evicted. Other volunteer-run projects like DC Doulas for Choice and DC Time Bank continued to expand opportunities for a human-centered, solidarity economy.rnrnJust a few other examples: A new grassroots, all-volunteer foundation — the Diverse City Fund — distributed $45,000 to 23 organizations led by people of color, and the long-running DC Abortion Fund stepped in when Congress blocked Medicaid abortion reimbursement. Several large housing coops consolidated and began to plan to play roles in spreading coop values & housing rights. New worker and consumer cooperatives began exploratory work, like a potential Shaw food coop, a GWU coop cafe, and cooperatives of day laborers and child care workers seeking greater control over their economic lives. And collective farming projects continued to take root in neighborhoods like Edgewood. NEW YEAR, NEW MAYOR, MORE REASONS TO MOBILIZE In 2011 a new mayor took office,...