rsz_3img_3533_0_0.jpgOn the morning of September 1, 2011, members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 500, Union representatives, and DC Jobs with Justice formed a delegation to the DC Department of Employment Services. The purpose of the delegation was to file complaints against employers who are not paying the Living Wage to their employees. Under the Living Wage Law if an organization has a contract for services for $100,000 or more and also receives assistance from the DC government, than their employees should be paid $12.50 an hour. When the Living Wage Law was originally passed in 2006 certain employers were exempted from this law, such as retailers and employers who held Medicaid provider agreements for direct services if it is provided through a licensed home care agency, community residence facility, or group home for mentally retarded persons as those terms are defined in section 2 of D.C. Law 5-48 (D.C. Official Code §44-501). However, under new regulations which were in effect as of April 1, 2011, direct care providers would be covered under the Living Wage Law. “In these difficult economic times, we are standing with our DD workers to make the point that further delay in applying legislation meant to ensure that they can better take care of their own families, is unconscionable” said Mark McLaurin, SEIU 500’s Political Director. However, when the delegation met with Pamela Banks, the Associate Director of the Wage and Hour office, she contended that developmental disability workers, from her understanding, continue to be exempted from the Living Wage Law, and thus, that she has no power to enforce the measure with DD employers. Such an interpretation is contrary to both SEIU’s understanding and the stated intent of the chief sponsor of the legislation. SEIU and Jobs with Justice will continue to press for a formal response to our request that the DC Government Counsel clarify that these workers are indeed covered, as the DC Council intended. “We are not going away, Too many worked too hard to pass this legislation and too many of our workers need and deserve a living wage” added Jamal Pender, SEIU 500’s Organizing Director.