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!


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

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: https://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/2019/09/12/after-checks-bounced-beerburger-pays-workers-withheld-wages-cash/2301886001/

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


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



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?

Community ID Celebrates 4 Years

CWJ is proud to celebrate 4 years of the Community ID

The ID was established to ensure that all members of our diverse community are welcomed and can participate fully in the economic and social life of our county.

The Johnson County Community ID can be used in a wide variety of day-to-day interactions, such as to:

  • Open a bank account in participating banks
  • Confirm your identify when using credit cards
  • Get a library card
  • Interact with schools, city and county agencies, and law enforcement officials
  • Participate in discount programs offered by selected community businesses and institutions

The Johnson County Community ID cannot be used to: get a driver’s license, board an airplane, purchase alcohol or tobacco, enter establishments with age restrictions, prove employment eligibility, or vote.

Join us on Saturday June 8 from 9 am to Noon to get your new Community ID at CWJ , check our Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1121452494645537/

Commitment to Our Future

In an era of serious challenges for low-wage residents, the Center for Worker Justice is celebrating several victories this week – and local community members are stepping up to help support its continued success. On Tuesday, the Iowa City Council voted unanimously in support of a groundbreaking affordable housing agreement, which residents of the Forest View mobile home park negotiated over the past three years with support from CWJ. Read the links from the Vote: https://dailyiowan.com/2019/05/07/city-council-comes-to-three-year-decision-on-forest-view-mobile-home-park/


And as part of its ongoing worker justice initiatives, CWJ staff assisted workers this week in recovering over $1,400 in unpaid compensation for their cleaning work at a local jobsite. CWJ leaders say these victories are also indicative of today’s challenges – while local incidents of wage theft, housing insecurity, and acts of discrimination are on the rise, national grants to support the work of groups like CWJ are becoming more scarce.