“We are Standing at the Crossroads of History” – MacArthur Genius Recipient Ai-jen Poo Speaks at EJC’s 2014 Labor Day Breakfast

ai-jen poo ndwa ejc barbra kavanaugh labor day

Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Barbra Kavanaugh, Executive Director of the Employment Justice Center

This past Friday saw the completion of the EJC’s annual Labor Day Breakfast. The event is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year, and is known around the region for including featuring a prominent keynote speaker from the labor and workplace justice community. In 2013, Restaurant Opportunity Commission co-founder Saru Jayaraman gave a passionate speech about the importance of coalition-building in the field of workplace justice, and in 2012 the Chairman of the NLRB, Mark Pearce, gave some perspective based on his many years as an attorney in the labor movement.

This year’s keynote speaker was Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and a recipient of a 2014 MacArthur Genius grant. Ai-jen has spent two decades on the front lines of domestic workers’ struggle for higher pay and greater workplace protections.  Her uplifting address at the Labor Day Breakfast focused on her work as a worker organizer and coalition builder, including her successful efforts to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in New York, which required minimum wage and overtime pay, one day of rest per week, and protections from discrimination and abuse. Ai-jen also discussed the future of a united worker movement, and the important role played by worker’s centers and organizations like the Employment Justice Center.

In addition to Ai-jen Poo, who received the 2014 Champion for Justice Award, other awardees at the Breakfast included:

  • Advising Attorney of the Year: Stan Zirkin, a retired attorney formerly with the NLRB,
  • Co-Counsel Attorney of the Year: Murphy Anderson, PLLC
  • Pro Bono Counsel of the Year: Andrew Lin, Mooney, Green, Saindey, Murphy & Welch, PLLC
  • Worker-Activist of the Year: Jhonny Castillo
  • Community Partners of the Year: Kalmanovitz Initiative, “The Promotoras Project”, and Jews United for Justice
  • Intake Volunteers of the Year: Douglas Boorstein, Maria Pilar
  • Special Award for Employee of the Year: Naomi Iser

The 2014 Labor Day Breakfast was not only an important fundraiser for the EJC. The event was a celebration of the accomplishments of the worker’s rights movement in the D.C. metro area over the past year, and of the people who helped make it possible. If you would like more information about the EJC, including about our weekly Workers’ Rights Clinics, click here. If you would like to support to the EJC, click here.