Tag Archives: dc

Tito Contractors: DC’s sweatshop employers

If ever there was a Dickensian tale to be told in the nation’s capital it would be the one detailing the exploits of Tito Contractors.

As DC Jobs With Justice outlines in an email:

Just over a year ago, a group of painters working at the Mt. Pleasant Library realized that their employer, Tito Contractors, was severely underpaying them. On top of working 60+ hours per week without overtime, they were paid significantly lower wages than what was stipulated by the public contract for the job. Other workers at the Tito Contractors recycling plant were also victimized by wage theft, abuse, discrimination, and sexual harassment on the job.

That’s pretty nasty stuff and this is one situation where the Department of Labor should be investigating. In the midst of all of this there were still some workers who decided to stand up for themselves and the response they got was chilling. Tito Contractor’s illegally fired them and threatened to call ICE to have them deported.

What people don’t realize is just how devious the employment by corporations of undocumented workers is. Corporations welcome the undocumented labor because they can pay them rock bottom wages with zero benefits, but as soon as the workers begin to speak out then they threaten to call ICE. It’s hypocrisy of the highest order.

FYI – there’s a rally in DC for the workers of Tito Contractors set for Monday, August 4th.

DC unemployment owes her $7k but Congress keeps her poor

This is what our Congress has become. It is so dysfunctional that it refuses to pay unemployment, kicks people out of their homes and puts them in poverty and homelessness.

My school aid ran out totally…I am so broke. in two weeks on June 30 I am about to be homeless unless I can get some help or job or the congress finally sends my last 20 weeks of dc unemployment currently they owe me $7000 but congress is too busy to help Americans.

Things shouldn’t have to be this way. But the Republicans we’re dealing with today are so extreme they put Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon to shame.

via Please help me!!!! by Laurie Hughes – GoFundMe.

Photo by aflcio

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier to lay smack down on open carry nuts

In case you haven’t heard yet, there’s a bunch of crazed mad men (and women?) who are planning to march into the District of Columbia on the 4th of July with loaded firearms. They plan to march against the so called “tyranny of the government” regarding gun control starting in Virginia and then heading into D.C. The one problem is that while open carry is allowed in the Old Dominion it is not permitted in the District.

This is what DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier had to say about this march:

“If you’re coming here to protest government policy, great,” Lanier said Tuesday on her monthly appearance on NewsChannel 8, reacting to the group’s plan to cross the Potomac River from Arlington National Cemetery. “If you’re coming here to break the law, we’ll take action.”

Lanier added, “There’s a pretty good chance we’ll meet them on the D.C. side of the bridge.”

At the moment there are two thousand plus gun nuts signed up for the march. No matter the number, come July I look forward to the D.C. police department taking these people and their militia fantasies down a notch.

DC government has the sorriest bunch of Democrats I’ve ever seen

Whether it’s the current mayor Vincent Gray (I wasn’t a Fenty fan either) or the city council, this city truly is suffering from a crisis in governance. The Washington Times of all papers (I don’t read the conservative press) has done an investigation which has found that members of the city council abuse a fund that’s supposed to be used to help people in need.

A Washington Times review of 10,000 payments totaling $3.3 million since 2004 shows that just 3 percent or $84,000 has gone to power and water bills, presumably for needy constituents, and $37,000 for phone bills. More — $133,000 — has been spent at pro sporting events.

Members also spent about $22,000 for delivery of bottled water and wrote $63,000 in checks to themselves, reimbursing themselves for meals with constituents and undisclosed other expenses from the so-called constituent services funds. Lawmakers raise money for the accounts from businesses and unions.

There are some serious reforms needed as one council member Tommy Wells has suggested.

Just look at what Yvette Alexander is doing –

Ward 7 Democrat Yvette Alexander, who represents some of the city’s poorest and lashed out against those who suggested eliminating the funds, saying the move would deprive needy residents, has used about $6,000 assisting impoverished constituents including $1,200 on gift cards — 4 percent of the $141,000 she has spent, The Times analysis found. Some $6,000 more was donated to assorted charities at fundraisers, while the remainder went toward expenses like consultants’ fees, desserts, catering, advertising and office costs.

America: This is your District of Columbia

 

Tell me America are you proud of yourself? You elected Republicans in 2010 that were out to gut everything. Here in DC they’ve seemed to take what the congressional and local Republicans are doing to heart.

Here in Washington, city services are already so strained before the proposed cuts that even families with young children seeking emergency shelter are routinely turned away, and have often been given instead bus tokens to ride the buses all night with their toddlers and infants.

So DC government what you’re telling me is that your proposed budget cuts which severely target the poor and low income (some could be the “working” poor) is what you truly believe to be necessary? You are OK with having homeless people ride busses all night because there will be no funding for homeless shelters and other services right?

The Mayor’s proposed budget would essentially close down all shelters for everyone except when the weather falls below freezing. The mayor’s justification? ” In some quarters, we have created a culture of dependency that does not encourage residents to take control of their lives,” he declared in a speech nonetheless proclaiming a vision of a compassionate “One City” uniting all.

Mayor Gray you’re fine with people sleeping on the street I see. I applaud you getting arrested with the other members of the city council a month or so ago, but this budget wipes away all the good will you’ve engendered with the public.

Would you be willing to pay a little bit more in taxes to stop this nonsense?

As the Washington City Paper reported: “The District came in first in costs in relation to both the number of city residents and the number of council seats. The council has a total budget of $19,434,000, including employee benefits–that averages out to $1,494,923 per seat, and $32.41 per resident.” But they don’t seem to mind kicking a few thousand people from shelters or cutting emergency assistance for the low-income disabled in order to preserve virtually all of their own perks — and keep costs down for the city’s richest citizens.

As a resident of Arlington, Virginia I’d be willing to pay some sort of commuter tax from my wages if it would help the situation. The higher income residents of the District of Columbia are not paying their fair share period and the DC city council is a sham.

“In a budget that makes very deep cuts, there was more passion for keeping parking cheap and for keeping taxes on the wealthy low than anything for keeping people off the street and from going hungry.”

When you look at it we’re not really talking about a major increase in taxes at all.

For the price of a cup of coffee, you can save children’s’ lives. That is the increased cost in taxes per week, $1.80, that a DC resident making $125,000 would pay if their tax rate went from 8.5% to 9%. For the price of a latte, you can retain essential services to DC’s children. That is the cost in taxes per day, $3.60, that a DC resident making $350,000 would pay if their tax rate went from 8.5% to 9.5%.

Union busting at the Washington Hospital Center

D.C. Nurses Union and the Fight for Health Care | Common Dreams

After unionized registered nurses passed out leaflets to patients and visitors in the cafeteria and entrances of the hospital campus a few weeks ago, management’s retaliation was fierce.

The next day, the hospital disrupted a union meeting and told nurses they were no longer permitted to hold union meetings at the hospital. Nurses were also barred from passing out handbills to visitors and were forbidden from holding a strike vote in the SEIU union office on site.

What a shame. We all focus on Wisconsin these days but the district has its share of labor issues as well.

Question for the new President of the United States of America

— from Daylife.com

Since I’ve been working and living in the DC metro area I’ve noticed scenes like this way too often. I’ve come across beggars in the street and in the corridors of metro stations almost daily. Sometimes I stop to give them some of the change in my pocket. Most of the time I don’t really have any money on me (you know the whole debit card thing). Every morning on my way to work in Dupont Circle I walk past the same homeless person. Every time I see him I’m reminded of the homeless situation occurring in the nation’s capitol. Part of me often wants to ask him “why don’t you take a job”? Any job that would allow you to not have to live and beg on the streets. For that matter why not go to a homeless shelter? Or is the shelter system too full? Do they only allow people to stay there at night? I also remember speaking to a homeless person back in Westchester County, NY who told me that shelters can be unsafe, so maybe that’s it.

Then part of me also realizes that a lot of the time things aren’t that simple. Even those who are working are barely above or are still below the poverty level. While they may have a roof over their head, their living conditions are usually still deplorable and there’s still a lack of access to opportunity for upward mobility. We call them the working poor and actually up until last year, before I moved, my income put me in that classification. The job I have now–which I’m thankful for since I’m doing something I want to do in the advocacy field–actually put me squarely in the middle class for the first time.

Of course homelessness is nothing new to America. After all I’m from New York and this is something I grew up around in the Bronx. Even when I moved to Westchester homelessness wasn’t hard to find in the county. The question that always comes to mind for me is, why does the local government allow homeless people to loiter and sleep on the streets in the first place? If anything this can be seen as a problem akin to public indecency. Regarding the visual component of homelessness; I was once told that there was an effort in NYC to remove the spectacle because people complained, but nothing was done to solve the problem. The homeless weren’t seen anymore but they were still homeless.

When it comes to the homeless in the District of Columbia, I was also told a story that when the Clinton administration was in power there was less visible poverty in DC. If this story is true then that would mean things have reverted back for the worse. This leads me to my question for the new President. My question is: can we do something to get the homeless out of the streets of the nation’s capitol? I realize that the President will be the leader of the entire nation, but his residence will be here in DC. Shouldn’t he have a vested interested in ensuring that the capitol is a shining city on a hill? Of course by asking this to the new president I’m not absolving the local DC government of anything. My question to them is: why is poverty as visible as it is now? What has the city government done and how high is this a priority for them? While there are some innovative initiatives out there like Street Sense, it’s going to take a lot more to solve this problem.

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DC: Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro station gets some Smithfield Justice

In the DC Metro system one sees ads done by many different groups. From defense contractors advertising at the Pentagon Metro station to the American Medical Association (who used to oppose universal healthcare) now calling for universal health coverage of some sort. Sometimes you even see good organizations championing their causes in this case, Smithfield Justice.

<img src=”http://dc.indymedia.org/usermedia/image/8/smithfieldjustice.jpg” style=”BORDER-RIGHT: #000000 1px solid; BORDER-TOP: #000000 1px solid; DISPLAY: inline; FLOAT: right; BORDER-LEFT: #000000 1px solid; WIDTH: 284px; BORDER-BOTTOM: #000000 1px Advertising on the DC Metro is a great way to get your message out there to the masses. Which is why it’s not surprising that groups do this. Not too long ago I even remember seeing ads at the Metro Center station paid for by CWA Local 14201 talking about the Washington Post and some of the injustices they perpetrate. This morning however as I was exiting one train and going up the escalators to transfer to the next train; I was pleasantly surprised to see a banner paid for by none other than Smithfield Justice.

Smithfield Justice is a project of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. On the ad, in bright yellow letters, we are informed that managers at a Smithfield plant called African American workers the “N’ word. They also beat people. We are also urged to not buy Smithfield products. In 1997, when workers at the Tar Heel, NC plant tried to unionize they were threatened and intimidated. On the Smithfiled Justice site we also learn that “Smithfield Foods is the largest pork producer and processor in the world, the fourth largest turkey processor and fifth largest beef processor in the U.S.” It is headquartered in the town of Smithfield, Virginia, but its operations stretch across the United States, Mexico, and much of Europe.”

With all the money they are making you would think they would not treat their workers this way, but sadly with many corporations the opposite is often true. It’s good to see Smithfield Justice taking to the Metro and I hope they escalate the campaign in this politically minded city of ours.

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