Tuesday, June 16, 2009

IWJ Leadership Summit

I had a great time at the Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) Leadership Summit in New Orleans this weekend. It was my first time in New Orleans, and I love it there! It reminds me of San Francisco in some ways. Definitely a much cooler city than Houston.

The conference was great. It was people from other worker centers, other groups (mainly of faith leaders) involved with IWJ, and members of the National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON). It was really inspiring to hear the successes and actions of groups in other places. One resounding conclusion is the best tactic to resolve worker abuses is direct action - organizing protests, employer visits, media events, etc. One group in San Francisco that focuses on restaurant workers often has the worker go to the restaurant (with a group of supporters), pull the manager out in front of the customers, and read a letter denouncing the injustices in front of everyone. We got to hear moving stories from workers, and some hopeful messages of change in the Department of Labor (which currently does a really lousy job).

Everybody needs to familiarize themselves with wage theft. There is a systematic problem in this country of workers not being paid for their work. These are primarily low-wage workers and a huge number are immigrant workers, but the issue affects everyone. Sometimes it is nonpayment of overtime, sometimes it is not receiving a final paycheck, sometimes it's nonpayment of minimum wage, or sometimes, in the case of many day laborers in particular, it's working for weeks, being told you'll get paid the following day, and your employer never showing up. This keeps people from being able to pay their rent and feed their families, but government agencies that are supposed to enforce our wage and hour laws are not doing what they're supposed to. If we send a complaint to the Texas Workforce Commission, the state agency that deals with wage theft, they don't respond for six months. The Government Accountability Office recently did an investigation and report ripping apart the Wage and Hour Division of the DOL.

Also, support the DREAM Act!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Domestic Worker Rights Actions in NY

Just in case anyone in New York is reading this, I wanted to pass along the info for these events, pushing for the passage of the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights in New York:

Many domestic workers, particularly live-in workers, work around the clock without rest. We're asking all New Yorkers who support domestic workers rights, to stand together for 24 hours straight in a symbolic show of support for the passage of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights - so that domestic workers can receive overtime, job security, basic respect and recognition.

8:00 am - 8:00 am
Press Conference Friday 12:00 noon
City Hall - across from 250 Broadway
Take the N/R to City Hall, or the 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge
RSVP, and sign up for a shift,
aijendwu@gmail.com, or (212) 481-5747

Bring your entire family, community and congregations to this Sunday afternoon, after-church, "march for peace and justice in the home" to show how many people of faith support and are connected to domestic workers. With children leading the march, many generations will march together with one
common message and theme. Let's send a strong message to the NY State Legislature and the Governor that we won't stop until they honor, respect and protect the work that makes all other work possible in New York.

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
City Hall - across from 250 Broadway
Take the N/R to City Hall, or the 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge
joycedwu@gmail.com or (212) 481-5747

*Monday, June 15 - National Domestic Workers Alliance Regional Congress Public Forum - WOMEN AND WORK*
Join domestic worker organizers, feminist scholars, activists, legislators, and other allies to raise awareness on how to extend protections to all working women. Featuring a video presentation of women leaders from across the country who are raising their voices to support the work being done on behalf of domestic workers in this country.

7:00 - 9:00 pm
Julius Held Auditorium
304 Barnard Hall, Barnard College - Barnard Center for Research on Women
3009 Broadway
New York, NY 10027