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.

Mobil Clinic at CWJ

We all know how difficult it is to go to the hospital or see a doctor, that is why we have made a partnership with the mobile clinic of the university and hope that one day we can expand the services they offer to our community, we share several photos of the last clinic in our Center.

Community United Against Rent Increase

CWJ, TeamCan, Teamsters & other Allies are supporting Gulfview Residents, we’re sharing an article about it: https://kwwl.com/news/2019/04/09/north-liberty-mobile-home-residents-getting-priced-out-of-property/

According to Golfview resident Don Lund, the meeting at the North Liberty Recreation Center on Friday, April 5 was standing room only. More than 100 people met to hear from Mazahir Salih of the Center for Worker Justice and Jesse Case of Teamsters Local 238.

Achieving a Dream

On February 21, 2019, the Iowa City zoning commission meeting was packed with people, lining the walls and filling all of the available seats. There were two items on the agenda for the members of the commission to discuss that night; the most significant being the rezoning of the Forest View mobile home park. The majority of people in the room were residents of Forest View and the surrounding neighborhoods, and had come tonight to speak about the project and the effect that it would have on their community.

To begin the meeting, the proposed development was described, and all of the new changes implemented in newer designs were explained. The plan is to create a commercial center on the middle to eastern side of the property, where the mobile homes currently are, and is set to include a gas station, restaurants, and possibly a hotel. The mobile homes will be replaced with manufactured homes, and the residential area will be relocated to the far west side of the property. The neighborhood side of Forest View will have community recreational areas and senior housing as well.

But what makes this development so impactful to the residents, and so necessary to get underway, is its plan for affordable long term housing. The manufactured homes will have a low monthly rent that if the residents pay for 15 years, will eventually transfer into ownership of their homes. For many, this would be their first chance to become homeowners, as well as to own a permanent home within a community that is central to the way they live their lives. Forest View residents spoke about how their strong community of neighbors was why they chose to live in the mobile home park in the first place; and it’s the reason now that they remain invested in this development, even after three years of uncertainty.

What struck me the most, after hearing the long, dry explanation from both the commission members and the developers at the beginning of the meeting, was how different “three years” sounded coming from them than it did when it came from the residents of Forest View. The first person to approach the stand to speak was a resident of the neighborhood for over 40 years. She described the excitement she remembers feelings when the developers first came to her and her neighbors. She had never owned a home before, and this was an unbelievable opportunity for her to do so and still be within the community that she loved. But, she went on, one year turned into two. Then three. Now, with no end in sight to the delays and the reconsiderations that plague the development plans, she, along with the countless other neighbors she’s lived next to for years, is having her mobile home fall apart around her from old age.

More and more residents came up and echoed her concerns. Many spoke about how long the development was taking to be set into motion, and how important it was that the zoning commission make concrete decisions to finalize its construction. But residents also spoke with some insight to why it had been taking so long to get underway; the development needed to be something that everyone involved could be proud of.

When it came to this, there was a different definition for everyone there. A particular example would be the proposed gas station, which would be right on the road leading into Forest View. One commission member was hung up on how necessary the creation of a gas station would be, to which a few women from the neighborhood adjacent to the development eagerly nodded. The representative for the developer, Black Bird Investments, explained that the gas station would bring in a steady stream of revenue, offsetting the low monthly rent paid by those living in affordable housing. The only way that this rent would remain affordable, he explained, is if the gas station is there. One of these women from the neighborhood got up later to speak. She said that she didn’t want to be able to throw a rock out her bedroom window and hit a gas pump, therefore, the gas station should still be reconsidered.  

This was just one of the points of contention which made it easier to understand, as the meeting went on, why this has taken process has taken so long. But the sentiment echoed by everyone, residents of Forest View and of elsewhere, was that the reason they came to these meetings was because they cared about the development. Despite all of the disagreements on the details, this project is still something that people are invested in, and want to see become a reality. One Forest View resident said that this project was a chance at achieving a dream, for him and his children, that he’s worked towards for 30 years. He offered up any and all of his services to the developers. “Whatever you need me to do, whenever you need me, I’ll do it,” he laughed. There was a lot of laughter in the room that night, mostly coming from empathetic neighbors seeing each other struggle to articulate the frustration that they’ve all felt for so long. There were tears too, for the same reason.

It is unclear whether or not the personal testimonials from the Forest View community will actually speed up the approval of the development or not. But what the night did show, as one concerned citizen put it, is that residents of Forest View are incredible advocates for themselves. As long as this development takes to be approved, they will be there, speaking up and collaborating as a community, in order to make their American dream into a reality.