From My Home to Yours

Let’s Pass our Checks to Local Families in Crisis !

Just one individual federal stimulus check will provide life-sustaining resources to at least two local families in crisis.

Donate here:

Low-wage and immigrant families in CWJ’s network have given our community so much.  

The workers at the heart of the Center for Worker Justice network play an essential role in Eastern Iowa’s economy. Our work powers local restaurants, hotels and construction. We care for children, seniors, and people with disabilities. We clean stores and offices throughout the night.

Working side-by-side with our interfaith and labor allies, we have led efforts to raise the minimum wage for all workers, increase access to affordable housing, host community education programs, and bring new food, ideas, and energy to this place we are proud to call home.

Now, in this global pandemic, many of our families are in crisis – with NO safety net.  

Many immigrant families in our network are not eligible for unemployment or federal stimulus funds. These are families that were working multiple jobs just to survive – whose minimum wages don’t provide enough to save for a rainy day, and who now have no income to pay for rent, utilities, or basic needs.  

That’s why CWJ allies are launching a campaign to pass along our federal stimulus checks to our neighbors who need them most!

Our goal is to pass along payments of $400-$600 per family to local community members in crisis, starting with those who are ineligible for any assistance. CWJ will distribute 100% of these COVID-19 crisis donations directly to local families who need them, with oversight from a committee of leaders.

Filling the Gaps in Public Health

Because none of us is safe unless all of us are safe.

The COVID-19 crisis is an urgent reminder that everyone in our communities is interconnected. The safety and future of every one of us depend on each other, and an injury to one is truly an injury to all. This national emergency exposes the serious gaps in our workplace standards, our health care system, our access to affordable housing, and our food security. NOW, in the midst of this crisis – each sector must implement emergency changes for the safety of our community. On behalf of low-wage workers across our community, the Center for Worker Justice (CWJ) calls on employers, landlords, and government agencies to implement the following emergency standards for the sake of all our grandparents, friends, and loved ones:

We call on LOCAL EMPLOYERS to take emergency action:

  • 14 paid sick days. There is currently unprecedented bi-partisan agreement that employers must implement emergency sick days, so that sick workers in restaurants, nursing homes, childcare facilities, and other workplaces can stay home and avoid infecting others without financial ruin. While legislation is being debated that will provide employers tax credits and other incentives, we call on local employers to voluntarily implement an immediate policy providing 14 fully-paid sick days for workers who are 1) themselves sick or, 2) caring for sick family members or, 3) caring for children whose schools or child care facilities have closed.
  • No attendance-related discipline during the COVID-19 crisis. The low-wage workers we represent rely on our work in order to live. Many do not qualify for unemployment or public assistance. They do not miss work if they can possibly avoid it. But the COVID-19 crisis has created daily disruptions beyond workers’ control and will affect their childcare, schools, and lives in unexpected ways. This week Amazon – not known as a leader in workers’ rights – announced that it will issue no attendance points during the month of March. We call on local employers to honor a moratorium on attendance-related discipline during the COVID-19 crisis.

We call on LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND HOSPITALS to take emergency action:

  • Universal access to COVID-19 testing and related health care. Many low-wage workers in our community lack access to health care, do not qualify for Medicaid or “Obamacare”, and rely on the Free Medical Clinic, county public health programs, and charity programs of local hospitals as their only source of medical attention. People will not get the essential testing and care they need if they fear financial ruin as a result of their care. We call on our local governments and hospitals to provide free, universal COVID-19 testing and related health care and look forward to meeting with leaders of these programs to ensure that they are provided in a way that is culturally responsive and accessible to all.
  • Emergency funding for food banks and basic supplies during the crisis. Those who can afford it have been stockpiling food, toilet paper, and cleaning products – but many families cannot afford this luxury. Many families are facing difficulty finding these supplies in the stores, or at local charitable programs, when they need them. We call on our local governments to provide emergency funding for food banks and essential household supplies during the COVID-19 crisis, and we look forward to meeting with leaders of these programs to ensure they are provided in a way that is culturally responsible and accessible to all.

We call on LANDLORDS of apartments, houses, and modular home communities to take emergency action:

  • Moratorium on evictions for late payments related to financial pressures of the COVID-19 crisis. A national emergency has been declared. These are not normal times. Everyone is affected by the health and economic effects of this crisis – and the most economically vulnerable people will inevitably be hardest hit. It is unconscionable and a threat to public health to throw families out on the street, and into already overcrowded shelters during the COVID-19 crisis. We call on landlords of apartments, houses, and modular home communities to implement a moratorium on evictions for late payments related to the financial pressures of the COVID-19 crisis.

We call on all COMMUNITY MEMBERS to help!

  • YOU can help deliver this message to the employers, landlords, and elected officials and urge them to commit to immediately implement these common-sense emergency measures. As you visit retailers, restaurants, or other workplaces in the community, please ask to speak with the manager and discuss the importance of these policies for the health of our community. Speak with your elected officials about the critical importance of funding for food, essential supplies, and access to testing and health care during this crisis. Let us know what they say!

CWJ will be accepting donations to distribute to the workers who have suffered the COVIS-19 or their workplace is closed or slowdown.  Here is the link:

CWJ had recovered almost $90,000 until today !

Read an article about some of the work that we do on The Gazette Newspaper :

New data shows Iowans filed more than 600 unpaid wage claims, with limited success, in 2019

Franz Dunsworth said he was “hurting for work” when he began his third stint with Jet Services last fall.

The Ainsworth, Iowa, native said he worked about 50 hours before the home improvement company failed to issue paychecks to three co-workers, and later Dunsworth himself.

He said he left the job after several days and excuses received about the non-payments. It wasn’t until later, however, Dunsworth realized Jet Services also had not reported his hours and wages to the state, inhibiting him from claiming unemployment benefits.

Unbeknown to Dunsworth while he was working, the company also was not contributing to his union’s health and welfare fund. Because of that, he said he has not sought therapy or tried to have a child with his girlfriend.

“We just kept working and thought everything was peachy,” he said. “Then, when all the money dried up, it was like, oh yeah, we were getting screwed three different ways.” Here is the link:

Restaurant Employees Demand Unpaid Wages

North Liberty, Iowa: A coalition of community members took action on Thursday, September 12 in support of two North Liberty workers who are victims of “wage theft” – when workers aren’t paid the wages they are legally owed.

Wenceslao Mendez and Norma Diaz quit working at BeerBurger in North Liberty after their payroll checks bounced. In July of 2019, Wenceslao received a payroll check which was returned due to Non-Sufficient Funds. His wife, Norma, had the same experience in August of 2019.

The couple turned to the Center for Worker Justice (CWJ) for assistance. CWJ sent a letter to the management of BeerBurger on the couple’s behalf, demanding payment of wages, plus reimbursement for bank fees. BeerBurger issued two more checks, which also bounced. The couple is still waiting on these wages.

“Workers depend on their pay to provide for themselves and their families. A missed paycheck can mean unpaid bills, missed meals, and the loss of cars and homes. This is completely unacceptable in our community,” says CWJ Community Organizer Mazahir Salih.

With support from the Center for Worker Justice, Norma and Wenceslao are standing up to demand their unpaid wages.

Check the online article here:

It’s not about charity – it’s about justice

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been working hard to make sure that local businesses continue to honor a minimum wage that our community can actually live off of. With the passage of HSB92, local businesses no longer have a legal obligation to continue to pay $10.10, but as Rev. Rudolph T. Juárez points out in his recent op-ed, it’s not enough for us to preform simple acts of charity, but to go after the root causes of suffering and injustice in our community – in other words, fighting for a better minimum wage.

“The foot of charity is well-received in society because it generates a “feel good — one with humanity” kind of sentiment in us. It is socially acceptable because it is practiced by saints, religious organizations, civic groups and well-intentioned individuals. The hallmarks of charity are food pantries, bus-tickets, homeless shelters, and handouts that satisfy the immediate needs of people.

The foot of justice, on the other hand, is not always so well accepted, and its effects not so immediate or obvious. Justice addresses the root causes of hunger, homelessness and poverty. It can be controversial, because it is practiced by organizers, activists and prophets. The hallmarks of justice are community organizing, advocacy and political involvement. Justice looks for long-term results…..

….By law, employers can revert to paying the old minimum wage. But legal and moral are not necessarily synonymous. No, there are moral implications as to how we treat workers, how we invest in our community and how we promote the common good. These are the questions employers should be asking themselves and these are the questions consumers need to be asking before frequenting certain businesses. And more to the point, in the downward spiral of wages, who is it that has to bear the brunt of the kind of regressive legislation we are seeing in 2017?”

Read the full article at The Gazette


Stop the Legislature’s Assault on Iowa Workers!

On February 7, Republican lawmakers in Des Moines filed bills that constitute an all-out attack on workers in every city, county, and school district in our state. CWJ President Mazahir Salih and Vice-President Irund A-wan joined hundreds of union and community members at the capitol yesterday to speak out against these attacks.

House Study Bill 92 would take away the minimum wage increase our members fought so hard to pass, and throw tens of thousands of Iowa workers back to the poverty minimum of $7.25. It would ban local governments from passing any laws or resolutions that provide higher standards than state or federal law on any issue related to workers’ rights, as well as certain consumer environmental protections.
House Study Bill 84/ Senate File 213 is an extreme proposal that strips away over 100 years of basic civil service and union rights of public service workers – such as teachers, firefighters, secretaries, and snowplow drivers. It removes civil service protections established in the early 1900s to prevent nepotism and corruption, allows workers to be fired for any reason and without cause, makes it illegal for public workers to negotiate with their employer over any working conditions except raises, and contains provisions to dismantle public workers’ unions.
This is devastating to our state, our workers, and our public services. Please join us in calling our state legislators today to reject these attacks on the people of Iowa!
Connect to your state Senator by calling 1- 844-332-8460.
Connect to your state Representative by calling 1- 855-790-8815.