NEA Big Read Program

The National Endowment for the Arts Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Showcasing a diverse range of themes, voices, and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery. This year we are excited to be reading Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea. We hope you’ll read along with us, and join us for the community discussions!

Below is a preliminary schedule of activities associated with the 2021 Big Read program of the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa (CWJ). All events are virtual. The program is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) administered by Arts Midwest (based in Minneapolis).

Description of Into the Beautiful North http://luisurrea.com/books/into-the-beautiful-north/


Wednesday, May 5
, 4:00 p.m. Kickoff event; description of the program, information about book distribution, brief talk by Mazahir Salih (director of CWJ), and previews of later presentations (by Chuy Renteria and Miriam Alarcón Avíla)

Register for this event here


Friday May 7, 3:30 presentation by Cristina Ortiz about her research in Columbus Junction, Iowa among Latinx and Burmese immigrants, co-sponsored by Department of Anthropology, University of Iowa https://academics.morris.umn.edu/cristina-ortiz

Register for this event here


May 8 – May 21, three week book discussion program for high school students, curriculum
designed by staff of the University of Iowa Youth writing program
Thursday, May 13, 4:00 p.m. – presentation by Janet Weaver, at University of Iowa libraries, about extensive archive including oral histories about Mexican immigration to Iowa , emphasis on work http://migration.lib.uiowa.edu/ , co-sponsored by University of Iowa Libraries, Department of History, University of Iowa, and LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) of Iowa

Register for this event here

Wednesday, May 26, 7:00 p.m, book discussion of Into the Beautiful North led by staff at
Coralville public library


Thursday. May 27, 7:00 p.m. reading and discussion with Chuy Renteria of his forthcoming
book from University of Iowa Press about Latinx immigrant experiences of himself and others in West Liberty, Iowa, co-sponsored by Prairie Lights bookstore, Iowa City
https://obermann.uiowa.edu/people/jesus-chuy-renteria

Register for this event here



Saturday, June 5, 1:00 p.m. – “Immigrant Luchadores,” a presentation and discussion with local photographer Miriam Alarcón Avíla, https://www.miriamalarconavila.com/index co-sponsored by Hancher Auditorium

Register for this event here


Thursday, June 10, 7:00 p,m, book discussion of Into the Beautiful North led by staff at North Liberty public library

This event will take place IN PERSON at the North Liberty Community Center patio. Register here for the discussion and a free copy of the book.


Tuesday, June 15, 7:00 p.m. book discussion of Into the Beautiful North led by staff at Iowa City Public library

Register for this event here

Wednesday, June 16, 7:00 p.m. reading and discussion with Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Into the Beautiful North, co-sponsored by Prairie Lights bookstore, Iowa City http://luisurrea.com/

Register for this event here

Saturday, June 19, 11:00 a.m. two-hour writing workshops, led by members of the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program

Please contact andrew-tan-dellicicchi@uiowa.edu to participate or register here

Let’s Pass our Checks to Families in Crisis

They’re here!! The much-anticipated covid relief stimulus checks are inbound and arriving in bank accounts across the country as you read this! For some this relief comes as extra money to invest in their favorite local businesses or a safe outdoor activity with the family. However, for many more, this stimulus check means a payment on overdue rent, paying overdue bills to get their water or lights turned on, or paying to keep a hospital bill from going to collections. 

But many families in crisis in our network will not receive a check. Immigrant workers have been on the frontlines of this pandemic. Some “essential workers” continued to be forced into work, doing the most dangerous jobs for the lowest pay, and suffering disproportionate levels of COVID-19 infection. Others whose labor had previously powered the service sector were suddenly thrown out of work and left with no income to pay for rent, utilities, or basic needs. In spite of their contributions to our communities and economy, millions of immigrant workers continue to be excluded from federal and state crisis support.

Once again, we say “NO” to exclusion. Through solidarity and mutual aid, we can ensure that children, parents, and senior citizens are not stranded, alone, and in crisis. Our “My Home to Yours” program distributes relief funding ranging from $400-$600 to local families in crisis – to keep on lights and heat and maintain access to water and food. 

Launched for the first time last spring, the success of this program has been inspiring and breathtaking. Your donations have reached hundreds of families struggling to meet their most basic human needs. When your check arrives, please consider passing along a portion or all of your check to support this program and our friends who are left out and in crisis.

You may DONATE through this link: From My Home to Yours

Or you may make checks payable to Center for Worker Justice with MHTY on the memo line and send them to 1556 S 1st Ave. Suite C Iowa City, IA, 52240


Please help by making your donation and spreading the word. Thank you for all you do. We look forward to seeing you all soon; in the meantime, let’s continue building a more just and united community. 

Honoring Diane Finnerty

Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa would like to honor and remember our great friend Diane Finnerty, who passed away on December 29. A memorial service to celebrate Diane’s life will be held on Sunday, January 26, 2020, at 1:00 pm at The Park Lodge at the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area located on 579 McCollister Blvd, Iowa City, IA 52240. 

Diane’s work with CWJ was just one of the many ways that Diane worked tirelessly for social justice and equitable communities. She advocated against discrimination as Commissioner for the Iowa City Human Rights Commission and served on the statewide planning committee for Strengthening and Valuing Latino Communities. She also worked on the RAICES Project, a multi-year campus/community collaboration to build Latino capacity in rural communities. In addition, Diane’s work in local politics helped to elect the first Sudanese Iowa City Council member, Mazahir Salih. Diane was also committed to creating a more inclusive campus community at the University of Iowa, where she worked for 25 years. 

In lieu of flowers, Diane has designated that donations can be directed to her son Jorgito’s Educational Fund ugift529.com (ugift code R0K-J8D), the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, or to the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.

Here is the link to donate in Honor Dinne Finnerty to CWJ  https://cwjiowa.salsalabs.org/donatetocwjinhonorofdianefinnerty/index.html?

Caucus Training

Be an active participant in the Iowa Caucuses. Make your voice heard.

This is what democracy looks like!

How do the caucuses work? What you need to know.

How have the rules changed?

Help shape a platform that represents the concerns of immigrants and low wage workers.

— On immigration

— On wage theft and a minimum wage

— On affordable housing for all

— On workers’ rights

for the Platform Committee,

for leadership in your precinct.

Where: Mill Restaurant

120 East Burlington Street, Iowa City, Iowa

When:  January 21, 6:00-7:30 PM

Make an impact on our community, and have your voice heard at our Non-Partisan Caucus training event!

https://www.facebook.com/events/451824275481455/

Dream for Economic Independency

For the last year, CWJ members have shared their recipes, flavors, ingredients in our community.

We were able to empower aspiring restaurant owners’ to create unique dishes from their diverse backgrounds. Exploring cultures and flavors from the Middle East and South America we were able to connect through our shared passion for food. Together we tried exotic cuisines prepared by our members while helping them explore successful dishes for their future restaurants. We would like to thank all of the chefs for preparing meals for us and letting us learn about their cultures as well as all of the attendees at the event; it is with your help that we are able to fund these chefs and events.  Help us to start this dream: https://cwjiowa.salsalabs.org/CWJSocialEnterprise/index.html

7th CWJ Anniversary!

We had an excellent night celebrating its Seventh Anniversary and Fourth Annual Gala Fundraiser this past Saturday, October 5th; We are so grateful to have shared food, music, and conversation with our many friends and supporters in the community.

We began the night by hearing from CWJ’s Executive Director, Rafael Morataya. We were pleased to welcome representatives from the campaigns of Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Bernie Sanders to talk about these candidates’ commitment to the working people of Iowa. We also heard from our Community Organizer and City Council Member, Mazahir Salih, among other longtime supporters of CWJ.

Attendees of the Gala enjoyed a homemade dinner of Mexican, Guatemalan, and Sudanese foods. For dessert, we had the delicious cakes prepared by Maria Cachua.

Throughout the evening, we enjoyed music from the band Tropicante. We also had a large range of silent auction items for the guests to peruse, donated by supporters in the community.

We would like to thank everyone who attended. Our mission to achieve equality in work, education, and housing would not be possible without our supporters.

Read the 7th Year Report: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1sJtO9IVOf8cqeV6NwUly3Xp9ychKKqSh/view

You are Invited, Gala 2019

We invite you to celebrate with CWJ as we reach our Seventh Anniversary and Fourth Annual Gala Fundraiser!

Since last year’s Gala, we have recovered $15,000 in wages lost from wage theft, bringing our grand total recovered over $80,000

CWJ members have taken the initiative to create a social enterprise with the goal of opening a café using family recipes, transmitted by generations.     This year menu includes food from Mexico, Guatemala, and Sudan.

Our annual gala will be held on October 5th, 2019 at 5:30 PM and will feature 2020 presidential candidates and a menu from our social enterprise! Tickets go fast, so please purchase them here! 

 Sponsorship is available at the levels of:

 Solidarity Supporter at $250,

Worker Rights Defender at $500,

Presidential Candidate Sponsorship for meet and greet before the event, $500,

Economic Justice Champion at $1000. 

Tickets and Sponsorship levels are available clickings here!

What: Fourth Annual Gala
Where: 2355 Oakdale Road, Coralville, IA
When: October 5th, 2019, 5:30 PM

Check our Facebook Event here

https://www.facebook.com/events/452026365636945/

Your support will help us continue to do the important work of bringing

equity to Eastern Iowa and beyond.

Hundreds rally at Lights for Liberty vigil in Cedar Rapids

Take a look at the Media Articles from the Lights for Liberty Vigil in Cedar Rapids on July 12: https://cbs2iowa.com/news/local/hundreds-gather-to-protest-border-child-detentions-and-mass-deportation

https://www.thegazette.com/protestors-rally-in-cedar-rapids-against-border-detention-20190712

https://www.press-citizen.com/picture-gallery/news/2019/07/13/photos-hundreds-rally-lights-liberty-vigil-cedar-rapids/1721312001/?

Johnson County Celebrates Four Year of Community ID

Leaders in Johnson County say they’ve seen a lot of success in its community identification cards.

County leaders say there are many benefits to having identification. 
They say it makes simple daily tasks easier.

People can apply at the Johnson County Auditor’s Office every Monday through Friday. The cost is $4 or children and $8 for adults

Johnson County celebrates four years of offering community identification cards https://www.kcrg.com/content/news/Johnson-County-celebrates-four-years-of-offering-community-identification-cards-512487761.html?