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Thank YOU for a POWERFUL People's Assembly!

Wow!! A huge thank you to all who came out on Saturday to make our first ONE DC People's Assembly a success!

At the People's Assembly, our goals were to develop a shared understanding of the struggles we face, decide what should we do about them, and build our power to take collective action.

Through participatory processes, these campaign demands emerged:

  1. Right to Housing: prioritize the preservation and creation of family-sized units with longtime affordability at 0-30% AMI that includes protecting rent control and housing alternatives to vouchers
  2. Right to Income: get rid of tax breaks to corporations and developers and funnel those resources to the development of worker cooperatives
  3. Neighborhood & Worker Defense: create community-controlled alternatives that address access to food, housing, childcare, and recreation

The People's Assembly was an important step in a larger movement-building process. Now we need YOU to join us in building out the next steps.

Here's what's next:

  1. Organizing Meeting - Join us Thursday, February 13 at 6:30 PM at the ONE DC office for our next Organizing Meeting where we will start the process of building out a strategy for the campaign demands we outlined above that emerged out of the People's Assembly.
  2. Member Orientation - Tuesday, February 11. Are you new to ONE DC? Join us to find out more about our mission, values, and history, and what it means to be a ONE DC member.
  3. Annual Membership Meeting. Save the Date for Saturday, March 14! Between now and then, ONE DC members will be meeting regularly to develop a strategy for each campaign. At the Annual Membership Meeting, the campaign strategies will be presented for feedback and approval from the Membership.

Finally, to build a strong people-powered movement, we need strong and powerful organizations. Become a ONE DC member by paying your 2020 membership dues today.

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Thank you!

Patrick Gregoire
ONE DC Right to Housing Organizer
Donate to ONE DC


Juneteenth Press Conference

Join ONE DC, the DC Black Workers Center, and the Kalmanowitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at our Juneteenth Press Conference to release the Marriott Marquis Training Program Accountability Report.

Even with a landmark jobs training program for the new Marriott Marquis hotel and the First Source Law [which requires businesses that receive financial assistance from the District to make a “good faith effort” to hire DC residents for at least 51 percent of new jobs created] only 178 graduates of the Marriott Marquis Jobs Training Program were hired out of 719 trained.


Download and read the full report: "Trained to Death" and Still Jobless: A Case Study of the Efficacy of DC's First Source Law, Economic Development Policies, and the Marriott Marquis Jobs Training Program.

It is not enough.  We, the residents of Washington DC, want to see good jobs be available to Black District residents and public funds be used for the improvement of our communities, not just businesses.

WE DEMAND:

1. THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SERVICES (DOES) ENFORCE OUR FIRST SOURCE LAW

2. THAT THE MUNICIPALITY & DC RESIDENTS SUPPORT THE GROWTH OF THE BLACK WORKERS CENTER
SIGN THE PETITION

Can you support us by sharing a tweet?

This #Juneteenth, join @_onedc in demanding economic freedom for black District residents onedconline.org/firstsourcepetition #DCBWC #BlackWorkersRising

This #Juneteenth, join me in signing the petition to demand greater @DOES_DC enforcement of First Source Law http://www.onedconline.org/firstsourcepetition

'"Trained to Death" and Still Jobless' | Demand better employment opportunities for DC residents http://www.onedconline.org/firstsourcepetition #DCBWC

Join the conversation online by following @_ONEDC and hashtags #DCBWC and #BlackWorkersRising.

We chose Juneteenth (June 19th) because of its historical significance. Juneteenth celebrates the liberation of enslaved black Americans in the United States. 2015 marks its 150th Anniversary


An Economic Agenda for Black Workers

Adapted from Black Worker Organizing Panel Discussion

My name is Jennifer Bryant and I’m a right to income organizer with ONE DC. I’m going to be talking today about grassroots Black worker organizing in DC and the policy agenda of the DC Black Workers Center. The Black Workers Center is a resident led space whose mission is to create and maintain racial and economic justice through popular education, policy campaigns, direct action and the creation of worker-owned coops and other worker-owned alternatives.

I want to highlight the fact that this is a Black worker-led space. We’re very intentional about centering the leadership of Black Workers, especially Black women who are so often minimized in conversations about Black employment. I think it’s important to make the distinction between organizing Black workers and Black workers shaping and guiding the policies that directly impact our lives.

The DC Black Worker Center’s policy agenda is two-pronged: one, we’re pushing for greater enforcement, accountability and transparency around the city’s First Source law which states that businesses that receive public subsidies from the District must hire at least 51% DC workers. Our second policy campaign centers on the incubation, funding and support of worker-owned cooperatives.

Our first campaign around First Source will create more quality, living wage jobs which will help Black workers avoid displacement and remain in this rapidly gentrifying city. Our coop campaign falls in line with our longer-term vision of communities where Black workers are in control of our own labor. For those that may not know, worker-owned cooperatives are businesses that are owned and operated by their workers. Studies show that compared to other small businesses they tend to pay higher wages and provide better benefits, invest more in workers through leadership and skills development, and encourage democratic, participatory and dignified work places.

For the last few months, DC Black Workers Center leaders, with support from Ria and the Consumer Health Foundation, have been organizing coop learning journey trips to visit worker-owned coops in Baltimore, New York City and in June Philadelphia. Last weekend, 7 Black Workers Center leaders met with worker-owners at a construction coop in Brooklyn, coop funders at the Working World in Manhattan and took part in the cities participatory budgeting process in the South Bronx to learn best practices as we begin implementing these things in DC. In March, we joined with a group of coop owners, lawyers, trainers, and grassroots organizers to form the DC Worker Cooperative Coalition. We created six policy recommendations for the City Council which are:

1) to pass a local definition of “worker co-op” and support public education on the model’s benefits;
2) Equip the D.C. Small Business Development Centers to support worker coop businesses;
3) Provide city-owned land and buildings to worker cooperatives;
4) Provide funding (grants, loans) to worker cooperative businesses and developers;
5) Make worker cooperatives a preferred contractor for city agencies; and
6) Provide tax benefits to worker-owned coops.

Government support has been instrumental in coop development across the country. This year, the Madison, Wisconsin City Council committed $5 million over 5 years to worker cooperative development. In 2014, the New York City Council allotted $1.2 million toward worker cooperative development. The City of Cleveland has also been supportive of local worker coops by providing land for a 3-acre hydroponic greenhouse. So it’s possible – and DC Black Workers Center leaders see coops as an entry point to move toward greater worker autonomy and community control of labor.

Our First Source campaign grew out of worker experiences with the Marriott Marquis Jobs Training Program. In 2009, ONE DC was written into legislation to develop a jobs training program for the Marriott Marquis hotel as outlined in the New Convention Center Hotel Amendments Act of 2009. We launched the ONE City, ONE Search campaign and successfully recruited over 3,000 job-ready DC residents to apply for the Jobs Training Program.

Out of the 719 residents who completed the Program only 178 were originally hired, which is about 26%. The First Source law requires that employers who receive public subsidies from the District hire DC residents for 51% of new jobs created. The Marriott Marquis fell woefully short of that benchmark. That experience was significant because it brought to light the inability of most local workforce development programs to actually produce jobs for people. Many of the people that stand to directly benefit from these programs, if they worked, are Black and Latino workers who, for a myriad of reasons, are systemically locked out of DC’s vibrant labor market.

In their 2010 policy brief titled “Reforming First Source: Strengthening the Link Between Economic Development and Jobs” the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) found that the First Source program has been largely ineffective. Lack of compliance and oversight have resulted in the estimated loss of hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs for DC residents and the loss of millions of dollars in revenue for the city.

So we held listening sessions with Black workers to hear about their work experiences and partnered with the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University to interview Marriott Marquis Jobs Training Program grads and other stakeholders about their experiences in order to produce a report on the program. We’ve been in conversation with the LA Black Workers Center to learn how they implemented similar reforms in LA, which I believe Sean will touch on later. DC Black Workers Center leaders are now in the process of organizing a press conference to release our Marriott report and planning a direct action at the Department of Employment services to hold the city accountable on First Source. We know we can’t do this alone. We’ve been working with several local coalition partners to help build the base for the DC Black Workers Center including ROC-DC, OUR DC, the DC Employment Justice Center, DC Jobs with Justice and others. We’re also knowledge sharing and building relationships with other Black Workers Centers nationally including the LA Black Workers Center, the Workers Center for Racial Justice in Chicago, the Baltimore Black Workers Center and the National Black Workers Center Project.

To contact Jennifer, you can reach her at jbryant@onedconline.org or 202.957.4987


What does Black Freedom look like?

By Gabrielle Newell

This was the opening question of the 2014 National Convening of Black Workers Centers, a gathering that brought together labor activists from around the country.  I, along with 3 other ONE DC members and organizers, had the opportunity to attend and kick-off ONE DC’s efforts to create a DC Black Workers Center.  As a young, 22-year old, who has just returned to my hometown of DC after graduating from college in Chicago, I have energy, but what I need is a vision.  Organizing with ONE DC, I’m reminded that I am part of a powerful and historic legacy.

 

This is what I learned from the convening of Black labor activists: what we’re seeing today – in Ferguson, in Staten Island, and here in DC – is part of a larger trend, and our response must incorporate that history in order to illuminate the larger trends.  ONE DC is offering a space to do that.  Through Freedom Schools, listening sessions, and political education workshops, we as ONE DC are educating ourselves and exchanging knowledge in order to craft an effective response to the issues we face.

 

Now, we need to continue building momentum by drawing parallels between what different local groups are doing across the country.  For example, ONE DC is emerging from the Marriott campaign, an effort to enforce the First Source Law in DC, which states that any development project receiving more than a given amount in public funds is required to hire 51% DC residents in their new hires. In Los Angeles, the L.A. Black Worker Center is pushing for similar accountability.  To strengthen the national movement, we need to celebrate the wins and recognize the struggles happening across the country.

 

This is particularly true now, when the nation’s attention is focused on police brutality targeting black lives. As we come together to voice outrage over this issue, we must recognize this is part of a larger systemic trend.  We must contextualize police brutality within the larger issue of disparate social power, exemplified by mass incarceration; inequitable public education; vast differences in health, by neighborhood; and disparities in earning potential.

 

And this response must be united nationally.  This was a predominant message coming out of the meeting: we need a national political agenda that is directed by the needs of Black people in America.  And note the emphasis on the political – we must engage in the political process.

 

I have too many family members and friends who are disillusioned with the electoral process, and rightly so.  However, recent events in Ferguson remind us about the importance of voting. For example, Ferguson, MO is 67% African-American.  In the 2012 general election in which President Obama was reelected, 76% of Ferguson came out to vote.  However, in the last mayoral election that resulted in the selection of Mayor James Knowles (the current and controversial mayor), only 16% of Ferguson showed up at the polls. And this mayor has influence – including appointing power - over the (majority white) police force and city council.

 

We often feel like the electoral system and all of these messy politics don’t concern us, but they can, and they should.  ONE DC understands this.  The People’s Platform is pushing for a resident-led political process, one that would effectively communicate our demands to elected officials and hold them accountable.

 

And so, my conclusion coming out of the Black Workers Center National Convening is this: the current momentum and growing people power must result in a national political agenda, one that is committed to quality jobs for Black workers, and ONE DC has a valuable role to play in that. 


First Ever Black Friday in DC

Walmart pushed its way into DC by offering good jobs for DC residents, even promising $13/hour wages. In December of last year, the first two stores opened up. Now, less than one year later, Walmart associates in DC are calling on the company to pay $15/hour and give consistent full-time hours.

ONE DC is calling on our members to stand with Walmart associates this Black Friday in saying "no more broken promises!" Walmart needs to provide living wage jobs with full-time hours, jobs that sustain families instead of keeping them mired in poverty. The Walton family, the controlling family of Walmart and owners of more wealth than 42% of American families, need to Respect DC!

What: Black Friday Protest and March on Walmart

When: Friday, November 28, 2014, 8:00 AM

Where: Meet at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station, 50 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20001

Why: To demand Walmart pay all their workers $15/hour and give consistent full-time hours!


RSVP Here

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Will you be there on Black Friday to stand with workers? Click here to RSVP
If you're not able to join us for in DC, check out www.blackfridayprotests.org for other events across the country or to plan your own.
There will also be a Thanksgiving Day action in DC at the Georgia Avenue Walmart

Kalmanovitz Initiative Intern Reflects on ONE DC Experience

By Diondra Hicks

My experience as a Kalmanovitz Initiative Summer Organizing Fellow with ONE DC was utterly amazing. It afforded me the opportunity to do meaningful work with very interesting people. I do not believe that most summer interns can arrive at their workplace as excited and eager to see what new endeavors the day will bring as I was this summer. Each day of my internship I walked into work not really knowing what to expect. I learned that grassroots community organizing is a job in which you must be open-minded because anything can happen. New issues, people, and tasks are constantly being introduced and it takes a lot of time and knowledge to be able to effectively intertwine these seemingly distant pieces to create movements for change.

So on our first day at ONE DC, Dominic instructed us to simply walk around the neighborhood and take note of what we observed. I was able to detect that the Shaw neighborhood had a deeply rooted history with Howard University, a colorful mural of Chuck Brown, and the infamous U Street corridor. But I could also see the impeding emergence of gentrification in the neighborhood as many new, fanciful housing developments situated on the same blocks with aged townhouses and public housing facilities seemed largely out of place. Without a doubt, gentrification was changing and even erasing the physical culture and history of the Shaw neighborhood in ways as explicit as the displacement of many residents in the area. On day two of my internship, Reece said to me, “Millions of anonymous people is what history is about.” This statement would prove to define a lot of the work I engaged in during my summer at ONE DC.

During our first few days at ONE DC we were given lots of information to read about ONE DC’s history, essential rules of being a community organizer, phases of oppression, emotional justice, radical movements, direct action, and much more. However, the most valuable knowledge I gained came from my experiences. I can group my experiences at ONE DC into three major categories: research on Ban the Box legislation, planning right to income meetings, and work around the creation of a Black Workers’ Center for DC. My second week at ONE DC was filled with Ban the Box legislation research as ONE DC was seeking to become a supporter of this legislation.

Ban the Box has been the catch phrase for a series of campaigns around the nation to remove the check box on job and housing applications that asks if one has ever been convicted of a crime or felony. Usually, upon truthfully checking this box an applicant’s paper work is disregarded as a qualified applicant. Banning this box aids the 25% of all American adults which have been convicted of a crime. It makes them more likely to be able to provide for their families and less likely to return to prison. We shared news of Ban the Box with individuals ONE DC had contact with in the past and were glad to see the DC City Council push the bill onto Congress on July 14th, although with some undesirable amendments.

Under their Right to Income campaign, ONE DC held monthly listening sessions to hear from the individuals the organization seeks to build power with. Most people were contacted due to their involvement in the Marriott Jobs Program, a job training and hiring project put together by multiple partners in order to ensure that DC residents were hired for a DC job opportunity at the Marriott. Unfortunately, the program ended in a lot of disappointment for the applicants involved. Many people simply never heard anything back from the Marriott. These listening sessions were held to create a safe space in which individuals could express their frustrations with not only the Marriott Jobs program but also with the state of unfair hiring and employment practices all over the District. Reece themed these sessions with ‘The Five Phases of Oppression.'

During my time at ONE DC I helped to plan the sessions on Power and Violence. During the Power listening session we used snippets from Richard Pryor stand-up sets that demonstrated unproportional injustices for Blacks in America. The Violence listening session allowed people to voice their experiences of employers’ harsh, demeaning, and unfair tendencies on jobs. There is one more listening session to be held to cover The Five Phases of Oppression. After all of the sessions have been held the staff at ONE DC will compile all the information, experiences, and suggestions made by DC workers in order to create a mission and vision for a Black Workers’ Center in DC.

The rate of unemployment for Black workers is twice that of White unemployment. In addition, Black workers are 25% more likely to be underemployed than White workers. In these positions of underemployment, Black workers are often mistreated on their jobs. Low wage jobs have a poor reputation for practices of wage theft and other violence against workers. Reece introduced the idea of a Black Workers’ Center to ONE DC to make working conditions better, create better jobs, and fight against bad work and bad employers. He talked enthusiastically about the Center and was able to grab the attention and curiosity of others with his pitch.

Over time at ONE DC though, I found myself unable to really define what the Black Workers’ Center (BWC) would be or what it would do. It took encouragements from many people, some even without knowledge of my lack of comprehension, to speak up about my opinions of the work I was participating in and one day I finally did. I expressed to Reece that I felt the wording around the BWC was vague and I was unable to give a strong pitch for it because I was unsure of the vision for and actions of the BWC. This conversation led to an entire day of Reece and me working though the communications around the BWC and became the highlight of my time at ONE DC. Over several weeks Reece and I edited our write up for the BWC, adding strategic information and steps. I am really proud of the work that we did and while the information surrounding the Black Workers Center is still subject to change, I feel really good about making the message more direct and clear. I believe I have developed a strong suit for work in communications.

Pushing the creation of a Black Workers’ Center required me to meet individuals in the community to try to get to know them on a more personal level. During house visits and meetings I met many interesting people with a range of life stories and dreams for their futures. We are hopeful that the BWC can be instrumental in initiating change in the lives of some of these people and many more. We have gathered individuals who want to respond to the Marriot Jobs Program asking for explanations for the disappointments of the hiring process, people who currently work for Marriott and want to stand up to their unfair employers, residents who have a background in healthcare and dream of having ownership in a healthcare business, and individuals who simply just want better job opportunities. The vision of the BWC supports the realization of all of these goals for the workers of Washington, DC.

I learned so much from my experience at ONE DC and each day was enjoyable. I even got the opportunity to dabble in a little bit of the housing work ONE DC does. I was a little saddened by how quickly my time ended there. Hopefully though, I will be able to return to ONE DC in some capacity during the school year. The internship with ONE DC gave me a real world experience with real people who live in it; not some glamorous office suite job, but hard work with people who need help and social justice. The work grassroots community organizers do is not important because it involves big names and events that will be recorded in history text books; the work they do is important because of the thousands of anonymous lives they touch to effect change for the underserved and create a history of progression with those individuals.


Direct Action Organizations Host People's Platform Mayoral Forum -- This Saturday

WHO:               Organizing Neighborhood Equity (ONE DC), Barry Farms Study Circle, Empower DC, Our DC, Working Families, Fair Budget Coalition, DC Jobs with Justice, ROC-DC, DC residents, Mayoral Candidates Bowser, Evans, Lewis, Orange, Shallal, Wells, Majors, Gray

WHAT:              Mayoral Forum

WHEN:             Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 4:00 PM

WHERE:           THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20020

 

(Washington, DC) — Native Washingtonian Sylvia Brown-Carson dedicated years of time and energy to her government job, only to be embroiled in a worker’s compensation battle due to her work-related injury. As a result, she was evicted from her home and is now living with and caring for her elderly mother in a small one-bedroom apartment. Due to the lack of affordable housing in the city, she has been unable to find a more suitable unit that is both reasonably priced and accessible to her mother, who is disabled. Sylvia, a ONE DC member, expressed her frustration with the situation: “the amount of units being built just doesn’t meet the need, and there are even fewer units available in my case,” she said, referring to her struggle to find an accessible unit. Though she has repeatedly sought housing that meets her family’s needs – a basic human right – she has not found such a place. Furthermore, she cannot put her name on the waitlist as it was closed in April of 2013 due to extremely high numbers. She continued: “It’s just saddening to see how politicians have neglected the affordable housing crisis to the point where it’s this bad, with over 70,000 families on the waiting list and more who can’t sign up now that [the list] is closed.” Like Sylvia, each of these tens of thousands of DC residents has a unique story, and each one has the right to quality, truly affordable housing. “Whoever the candidate is,” Sylvia said, “has got to vouch to clean up [the units] and house all the residents who need it.” We agree. It is time for long-time low-income DC residents of color to have their voices heard and their advice heeded. It is time for The People’s Platform.

 

Unlike other mayoral forums, ours is run by and for long-time DC residents of color who recognize that there are long-term consequences to candidates’ short-sighted decisions. The co-sponsoring organizations have a long history of organizing DC residents around truly affordable housing, income equity, and education reform using direct action, forcing politicians to not only talk the talk, but also to walk the walk. Instead of listening to the candidates repeat the same stale promises, this forum will feature the innovative voices and ideas of those who know the city best: its long-time residents of color. Through years of discussion and outreach, all contributing organizations and individuals have a strong working knowledge of residents’ needs and demands, and are ready to hold those in power accountable. 

 

The forum will include an opportunity to learn exactly what those who are running for mayor know about the city. The audience is encouraged to participate actively in asking the candidates to think critically about their own platforms and how they can bring about deeper, structural change that promotes equity. Just as direct action has played a crucial role in our work in the past, we plan to utilize similar strategies to ensure that candidates are present and engaged during the forum, and true to their word moving forward.

Given the challenges facing DC and the possibilities for positive change, we challenge candidates to stand for:

  • Deeper Affordability in All New Units: Affordable housing means affordable to all. Given that current commitments to the construction of affordable housing meet only 2% of the need for those earning less than 30% of the AMI ($32,250/year), funding for these units must increase.
  • The Protection and Preservation of Public and Project-based Section 8 Housing: Public and project-based section 8 housing provide community, stability, and one of the only affordable housing options for DC residents. The government has a responsibility to debunk the negative myths around public and project-based section 8 housing, halt demolitions and ‘opt-outs’, and restore and develop more units.
  • A Minimum Wage That Is Truly a Living Wage: To afford a two-bedroom apartment, a family must earn $27 per hour: 3.3 times higher than the current minimum wage ($8.25), and still 2.3 times higher than the coming 2016 increase to $11.50. A minimum wage increase to at least $15 is necessary, including $15 per hour for tipped workers.

For interviews and media credentials, please contact:

ONE DC (formerly Manna CDC) was founded in 1997 to help organize long-time, low-to-no wage income DC residents to exercise their political strength to address structural injustices in their neighborhoods, including gentrification and inadequate employment opportunities. ONE DC’s campaigns include the right to land, housing, and jobs.  For more information on ONE DC, please visit www.onedconline.org.

Barry Farm Study Circle organizes public housing residents to protect their human rights and challenge the systems of oppression that impede their physical and mental health and wellness. They organize and educate public housing residents to advocate for themselves while also collaboratively working with like-minded organizations and individuals to address the social injustices that impact our families and communities.

Empower DC, founded in 2003, is a citywide membership-based organization dedicated to effecting social change through a democratic, self-help empowerment approach to community organizing. They work to support low and moderate income District residents in raising their voices and building their collective political power.

Fair Budget Coalition advocates for budget and public policy initiatives that address poverty and human needs in the District of Columbia by leveraging the collective power of its member organizations, including working with social service providers to empower those directly affected by poverty to participate in the advocacy process.

Our DC is a not for profit organization working to connect people, communities and organizations to Bring Good Jobs to the District of Columbia. They are dedicated to ensuring that the voices of unemployed and under employed city residents are heard in local and national dialogs on jobs and job creation, and to supporting enforcement of living wage laws and first hiring rights for District residents.

D.C. Working Families, an affiliate of the national Working Families group, is a coalition of progressive labor unions and community-based organizations, which aims to combine efforts to bring about meaningful change in regards to employment justice in the District.

ROC-DC, founded in September 2009, is a local restaurant workers’ organization dedicated to improving working conditions in the restaurant industry. ROC works with its over 500 members and broader DC community to build, develop, and lead the worker center.

DC Jobs with Justice is a dynamic coalition of labor organizations, community groups, faith-based organizations, and student groups dedicated to protecting the rights of working people and supporting community struggles to build a more just society. 

SOURCES:

  • “A Decade of Progress: Investing in Lives and Neighborhoods through the Housing Production Trust Fund,” a Report by the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development, 2012
  • DCFPI Report: DC’s First Right Purchase Program Helps to Preserve Affordable Housing and is One of DC’s Key Anti-Displacement Tools, September 2013
  • Housing Wage from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2013 DC State Profile