Members of the DC Workers’ Rights Board

(affiliations listed for identification purposes only) CURRENT MEMBERS OF THE DC WORKERS’ RIGHTS BOARD (2012): Pastor and Founder Raymond C. Bell (Chair) – Spirit of Love and Deliverance Baptist Church Christine Hart-Wright – STRIVE-DC Yvette Bryant – Florida Baptist Church Terry Lynch (Past Chair)- Downtown Cluster of Congregations Parisa B. Norouzi – Empower DC Carol Rosenblatt – Coalition of Labor Union Women Reverend Edwin Jones – Living Faith Baptist Church and International Ministries PAST MEMBERS OF THE DC WORKERS’ RIGHTS BOARD: Kwame Brown – DC City Council, At-Large Msgr. Raymond East – Archdiocese of Washington Bishop Carlos Harvin – Imani Temple Eugene DeWitt Kinlow – Washington East Foundation Bill Lightfoot – Attorney Phil Mendelson – DC City Council, At-Large Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton Marcel Reid – DC ACORN Rabbi Robert Saks – Congregation Bet Mishpachah Rabbi Gerry Serotta – Temple Shalom Rev. Lennox Yearwood., Jr. – Hip Hop...

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,...

Workers’ Rights Board Takes on Wage Theft

Workers, advocates, labor leaders, and community activists packed the basement of First Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church last Thursday night to examine how “Wage Theft” is impacting local workers. rnrnA board of 10 prominent community leaders, chaired by Rev. Raymond C. Bell of First Rising Mt. Zion Church, heard testimony from day laborers, security officers, ironworkers, and cleaners – all of whom had their hard-earned wages stolen in different ways. rnrn“The problem of stolen wages is very deep and very broad,” said Socorro Garcia, a day laborer and leader of the Union de Trabajadores, who has twice had to fight employers who refused to pay what they owed him. An estimated 60% of day laborers in DC experience non-payment or under-payment of wages. Frustrated by slow action by the DC Office of Wage and Hour, Garcia and others have been using direct action to help recover their rightful pay. Garcia urged other workers to report incidences of wage theft and work together for justice. “I know it is very difficult,” he said, “but we have to have the courage to step up and complain.”rnrnEric Sheptock, a homeless activist, echoed the sentiment, adding that education is important so that all workers know their rights. Last year, Sheptock was working for a cleaning company and being paid $7 per hour. After a friend pointed out that the DC minimum wage is $8.25, Sheptock spoke up and got the DC Office of Wage and Hour to investigate, resulting in an audit of the company and payment of back wages to Sheptock and all his co-workers. rnrnKeith Pugh and Carlene Olobayo, both former...

Students March, Sit-In for Fired Workers

More than 200 highschool students wearing all black walked out of classes Monday to protest the layoff of 388 school employees last week. Chanting “No counselors, no college!” students met at McKinley Technology High School and marched towards schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s office. “We are here because our education in on the line,” said one student. “We have no teachers. All our counselors have been laid off. I am a senior, I want to graduate, I want to go to college, I want to have a future but how can I do that without a school counselor.rnrnAt McKinley officers from the Metropolitan Police Department entered classrooms at around 2:45pm Friday to escort the teachers out of the classroom, “I was in class, the police came in, told my teacher to leave the classroom and escorted her to her car. We knew the layoffs were coming but we didn’t know who or when it would happen. It was very distressing,” explained Tamika DeBose, a student at McKinley Tech. As McKinley students gathered peacefully in the school courtyard on Friday, police attempted to disperse them, pepper spraying DeBose directly in the face. Another senior, Teyvon Cooke, began to voice her opposition to the layoffs when the police allegedly grabbed her neck, threw her on the ground, injuring her face and then arrested her, falsely accusing her assaulting a police officer. “Rhee mismanaged this situation badly,” said Kelvin Sherman, a 12th grader who filmed the incident and was expelled today after he shared the footage to with news stations. “At the end of the day it’s students who suffer.” rnrnRhee argues that...

Frequently Asked Questions about DC’s WRB

What is the Workers’ Rights Board?rnThe Workers’ Rights Board is a board composed of community and religious leaders, academics, prominent members of the community and public officials who support struggles for economic justice through investigations, hearings, press conferences, meetings and other events. rnrnWhy was the Workers’ Rights Board created?rnJobs with Justice originally created Workers’ Rights Boards to combat the lack of an adequate legal framework to support workers’ rights. Our Board in Washington, DC is one of over two dozen Boards across the country. Although it has no legal authority, the Boards can produce real results. rnrnWhat does the Workers’ Rights Board do?rnBesides holding hearings, the Workers’ Rights Board can also support worker struggles by writing supportive letters, issuing reports and press releases, organizing town hall meetings on key issues, and sending delegations of community leaders to talk to management or to public officials. rnrnWhat has the DC Workers’ Rights Board done?rnOur Workers’ Rights Board in DC was formed in the Fall of 2001 to support the efforts of workers at Interpark to unionize. rn In December of 2001, the Board came together again to investigate the effect of September 11 on the tourism and hospitality industry and to call on our public officials to do more to aid workers laid off as a result of a drop in travel and tourism. rn During the summer of 2002, the Board held its third hearing, investigating the exploitation of immigrant workers. The hearing focused on the abuses perpetrated by a local lawn services firm with a contract to maintain the city’s parks, playing fields and recreation areas. Since then, the...