Together, we made 2013 a great year for workers in metro DC

A message from Barbra Kavanaugh, Executive Director of the DC Employment Justice Center…

The year 2013 was a great one for the EJC. I am so proud of the EJC staff and volunteers as well as the community allies, donors, and workers who have all contributed their support and hard work to fight for workplace justice in the metropolitan DC area this past year. There is still work to be done, but let’s take a moment to look at all that we accomplished in 2013.

Legal Services

  • Over  1400 clients, 200 more than we served in 2012, were assisted at our free, walk-in Workers’ Rights Clinics in NW and SE DC by the volunteer intake workers and advising attorneys.
  • The EJC and its pro bono attorney partners received $744,591.12 in awards and settlements on behalf of low-income workers, and $605,000 has already been paid out to our clients.

Policy Advocacy

  • After three years of work, the “Paid Sick Days for All” campaign succeeded in having its bill introduced and ultimately passed by an unanimous DC Council.  This Fall, the campaign expanded to successfully push for a minimum wage increase as well and won increases to $11.50 in DC, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County. There is still work to be done to make sure these laws are funded, implemented and enforced – but after so many years, victory has been very sweet.
  • This year, the DC Council included the Wage Theft Prevention Act as part of its budget, which, among other things, triples the amount of damages workers can receive when they suffer from wage theft.
  • The EJC also won a huge victory last month for home health care aides as well as other workers on DC government contracts. By pressuring the District government to apply its living wage law to these workers and to resume adjusting the living wage rate to account for inflation (as is required by statute, but had not occurred for three years), the EJC was able to win between $13-20 million for these workers in potential back pay for 2013 and raises worth even more in future years.

Organizing

  • Injured Worker Advocates:  The IWA advocacy group has met regularly to develop strategies to reform the Public Sector Workers’ Compensation and has participated in broader Fair Budget Coalition lobbying activities.
  • Workers Advocating for Greater Equality:  WAGE has substantially expanded in 2013 since the EJC initiated a new phase of its WAGE organizing by hiring a full-time organizer and systematically initiating conversations with hundreds of workers about wage theft. In 2013, worker activism helped win a wage theft campaign against one employer and made progress against two more.

Education

  • In 2013, EJC educated 588 workers and community members about their rights on the job at various community centers and non-profit organizations in the metropolitan DC area. Many thanks to the generous support of our community education partner, the O’Donoghue and O’ Donoghue law firm.

We are very grateful to everyone who contributed to a very successful 2013 – and we look forward to continuing our work in 2014

EJC staff and allies on Learning Journeys trip to El Salvador

EJC staff and worker activists on Learning Journeys trip to El Salvador