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PHOTOS: Anniversary celebration draws hundreds, raises record $16,750!

The crowd swells, worker testimonies ring out powerfully, and the piggie bank overflows in a record-setting day planned and executed by low-wage workers:

Workers’ Dignity began with a handful of volunteers passing out flyers out of the trunk of a car. What started small has since grown tremendously. You can mark the growth of power low-wage workers are building each year in Nashville by the size of our marches, and the growth of community by the size of the crowd at the anniversary party. On this past Sunday, it showed that we haven’t been just building power in the street, but community as a people.

Angela joined as a member in the first months of 2016.
That community is ready to burst back into the city’s headlines as it targets the hotel and hospitality industry for its sub-poverty pay and abusive working conditions. As Diana said in her speech, “Right now we are in a campaign to uplift hotel workers, mostly women cleaning workers, and after winning my case what really kept me here was this broader Campaign for Just Hospitality.” Ana, Celestino, Mario, and Angela also spoke on what it means to be a worker and to be fighting for economic and social justice.
The performances by REBELFUSION and Ballet Folklorico Sol de Mexico captived the crowd and drew applause and a dance party in front of the band, but the biggest highlight of all was the almost unbelievable fundraising count. A stunning $16,750 — more than double last years final count, and more than 150% of our goal — shows with practice, our fundraising muscles are growing stronger. Every time we make an fundraising ask of the people, we show that we rely on workers and their allies, not outside influences. Unity is strength!

Thank you for attending the party & supporting our organization.

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The grassroots fundraising surge continues:

When workers and allies sat down six weeks ago to plan a fundraising goal for this years’ anniversary celebration, they set a lofty goal of ten thousand. It’s usually one of our biggest in-person fundraisers that we rely on as a grassroots organization, but that was our biggest goal yet.

We have to tell you though, we’ve already blown that away — with five more days before the anniversary event, where many people choose to bring their pledges.

So we’ve reset the goal to $15,000. We wanted to share the good news with you and ask you to consider how much you can give towards another year of workers’ victories. It’s important we continue to rely of small donations from workers and their allies.

Thank you for being a part of this movement, and we’ll see you Sunday afternoon.


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Two fantastic acts lined up for our Sunday anniversary celebration…

REVOLFUSION & Ballet Folklorico Sol de Mexico confirm another year of artistic support for Workers’ Dignity, will perform this Sunday afternoon:

combined

There’s nothing to bring a community together like music, and art — and there isn’t a more powerful community in Nashville than the workers who have fought over the last year to recover wages, and improve conditions in Nashville hotels.

Nashville-based REVOLFUSION opened the roof-shaking “Rebels with a Cause” concert this fall attended by hundreds supporting our developing radio station, and before that they have played at several WD events, connecting with workers and playing revolutionary Latin fusion.

Ballet Folklorico Sol de Mexico have been turning heads with their colorful show & soul. Expect their dancing to mix in with audience dancing, if you’re ready.

If you’re town this Sunday, make sure not to miss the performances, and a whole lot more like fundraising, food, and worker testimonies.

Get your tickets online or pay at the door:

3 – 6pm Sunday
Woodbine United Methodist Church at 2621 Nolensville Pike.
$5 for low-wage workers & family-members, $10 for others.

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6 victories for our 6th anniversary: location announcement & more…

Join us on May 1, International Workers’ Day, as we celebrate 6 years fighting for workplace dignity and justice for Nashville’s housekeeping workers!

Our 6th Anniversary festival will celebrate our first 6 victories of 2016. Ana, Celestino, Ernesto, and other cleaning workers will share their experiences in winning back more than $12,461 in stolen wages through our Just Hospitality Campaign and direct actions.

It’s the best party in town! There will be live music from Jugal Vandy, delicious food, and kids’ art-making. Of course, we’ll also hold our raucous, drumbeat fundraiser to hit our $15,000 fundraising goal to expand our organizing work. Stay tuned – more announcements about performers to come!

Workers’ Dignity member Angela hopes to see you there:

“If you are a victim of mistreatment or harassment at your job, don’t stay silent! We invite you to be part of Workers’ Dignity. This May 1st, we invite you to a big celebration commemorating our anniversary. We will celebrate having supported many people who have struggled to win their cases.”

Join us on Sunday, May 1st, from 3-6pm at the Woodbine Methodist Church, 2621 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN 37211.RSVP on facebook.

Can’t make it to the celebration? Make a donation & help us surpass our goal.

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Victory for Mario Flores!

SHARE THE NEWS / COMPARTIR

Mario fought for 10 months; we edited this video for 8 hours. Take a look at how we go from planning to victory, in just under one minute! Make sure to share the video on Facebook!

Mario luchó por su salario durante 10 meses; hemos editado este video en 8 horas. Mira como logramos esta victoria en un minuto!!!

Equipo de medios
Workers’ Dignity media team

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Workers’ Dignity on the Move! 2015 Annual Report:

2015 was a busy year, as we expanded our Just Hospitality Campaign, bought a new worker center, and began preparations to launch WDYO 104.1FM, Nashville’s first worker-run radio station.

JUST HOSPITALITY CAMPAIGN

Nashville’s convention and tourist hotel sector is red hot. Wages and conditions for cleaning workers, however, are among the worst in the country. Since Workers’ Dignity launched our Just Hospitality Campaign in 2013, housekeepers in Nashville have improved wages and benefits in 7 hotels by over $680,000 per year!
The economic boom propelling Nashville to our “It City” status has been built on the backs of low-wage laborers. – Neptalí Pérez (Workers’ Dignity) & Vonda McDaniel (Central Labor Council) in Tennessean Labor Day editorial


Improved Conditions at Homewood

In April, housekeepers at the Homewood Suites Nashville Vanderbilt won across-the-board wage increases and recovered an estimated $21,000 in unpaid wages. African American workers led the fight, and one inspector went on strike over conditions. Total wages improved by an estimated $53,000 per year.


Housekeepers Wake Up Marriott

In August, after an 8-month campaign, housekeepers who worked for a cleaning agency at the Courtyard Marriott Nashville Vanderbilt/West End recovered their full wages. In the lead-up to the victory, workers and supporters held a late-night protest and a 7:00AM “Wake-Up Call” drum-banging action.

Without us housekeepers, these hotels can’t stay open – Fanny López, former Courtyard Marriott housekeeper


Cleaning Workers’ Bill of Rights

In July, housekeepers crafted a Cleaning Workers Bill of Rights and signed on 140 of their coworkers and other cleaners to back their demands. In 2016, they’ll begin presenting their demands to major employers in the hospitality industry.

Construction-to-Cleaning Initiative

In December, housekeepers joined unorganized striking ironworkers at the Westin Hotel project to demand living wages and safe working conditions for current construction workers and future housekeepers at the luxury hotel. Stay tuned! This was just the beginning of our Construction-to-Cleaning initiative to improve conditions in tourism and convention projects awarded millions of dollars in local tax breaks.

Training &Leadership Development

96 low-wage workers joined Workers’ Dignity in 2015. Training was a cornerstone of our work. In August, after our 6-week Justice School, we hosted “Organizing Workers’ Dignity Style” – a daylong training on member outreach and leadership development. 65 workers and community allies hailing from Chattanooga, Clarksville, Knoxville, Memphis, and North Carolina joined in.

Several hundred workers participated in Defend Your Rights workshops, co-facilitated by members, in English and Spanish. We also joined Cayce United in four joint trainings with members.

Solidarity: Cornerstone on Our Mission

Members stood with our brothers and sisters in several actions in Nashville and across the South. In the spring, we marched with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida. On Martin Luther King, Jr Day, we joined Nashville’s Poor Peoples March, and later went to Selma to commemorate the civil rights struggles there. We stood with the TN Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition to confront xenophobia.

And in 2015, we continued to serve on the Interfaith Worker Justice Worker Center Board and the Middle TN Jobs with Justice Board. Organizer Mario Mercado was one of three recipients of the national IWJ Faith Works Award.

WORKERS’ DIGNITY HOUSE AND WDYO 104.1FM

We bought a house as our new worker center. Volunteer construction teams spent weeks preparing the space, located in the heart of Southeast Nashville. Not only will it be a hub for housekeeper organizing, but a space for other social justice groups, working-class artists, and others to use and  call home. The studio for WDYO 104.1FM, Workers’ Dignity’s radio station, is also located in the new center. Nashville’s only worker-run station will go live in 2016. Stay tuned!


Fundraising

2015 was a breakout year in our grassroots fundraising. We raised over $55,000 toward our organizing budget and toward our capital campaign to purchase the new worker center and 104.1FM WDYO. Contributions came from member dues, monthly donations, our annual 5thAnniversary Celebration and Labor Day Picnic, and our first ever Kickstarter Campaign to launch 104.1FM.


Steering Committee (Board) Members in 2015

Diana López, Estanislao Alvarado, Froylán Rodríguez, Jesús Carrizales, José Luis Carrizales, Kelly Waller, Mariana López, Neptalí Pérez, Reggie Butts, Ricardo Flores, Rosa Ponce, Marie Campbell, Tristan Call

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The Monthly-donor Drive is Done: Here’s how we did

It was a huge success, and it turns us to a new page laying out how we can continue to grow independent funding for the movement in Nashville.

43 people signed up as new or increased donors since one month ago when we began our campaign, contributing an extra $937/month. That’s $11,214 more every year that Workers’ Dignity will have to count on as reliable, politically independent contributions.

It brings our total number of monthly donors to 90, and doubles the amount of our budget covered by monthly donors to roughly 10%.

That’s nearly 100 — think you can help us get there? The page to become a monthly donor is still live.

Thanks to those who worked on the campaign. Nearly 400 phonecalls from volunteers and countless face-to-face conversations created the wave of new commitments that we now can rest surely on.

Several more announcements are coming over the horizon. Be on the lookout.

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The radio fundraiser was successful!

We set a goal to get a radio run by working-class people up and running in Nashville, and we said we needed $10,000 to do it?

And we raised that amount!

Here is the link to the kickstarter page with our updated total of over $11,000.

Hundreds of donors and dozens of volunteers pitched in, the foundation of that being the work of membership-led radio committee over the last two years.

Stay tuned for more radio updates as we keep rolling ’till the members get the station on the air.

Many thanks,

Publicity Committee – WDYO 104.1 FM Nashville

 

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Workers’ Dignity 2014 Annual Report

Workers’ Dignity in Action: Accelerating the Just Hospitality Campaign

Dear Friends,

Serving on the Steering Committee of Workers’ Dignity, we have had the opportunity to support other workers organizing for justice. In 2014, we witnessed several advances in the Just Hospitality campaign. Housekeepers won victories in an industry where many are denied their minimum rights as workers. Women, many of whom are mothers struggling to provide for their families, have played a central leadership role.

Workers’ Dignity stands as a voice for everyone who the employers have tried to keep in the darkness. We are like a school that uses educational workshops and builds relationships with worker centers and other organizations to organize our coworkers to solve problems facing our communities. We are confident that this snapshot of our victories in 2014 will inspire you to help us further grow.

Mariana López & Ricardo Flores

Our Mission: We are a worker-led center organizing for economic justice and dignity for all!

Just Hospitality Campaign

In 2014, Workers’ Dignity expanded Just Hospitality, our multi-year campaign to qualitatively improve wages and conditions among Nashville cleaning workers. In February, 11 housekeepers shook the Hilton DoubleTree Hotel in the downtown tourist district, winning our first major victory of the year. Housekeepers won over $13,000 in unpaid wages and a hotel policy change that increased wages and benefits by anestimated $120,000 per year for about 30 workers.

“This was possible because we acted together, and made our work valued, we have rights as workers and need to be respected.” – Natalia Polvadera, DoubleTree housekeeper

In September, after a series of protests in front the Super 8 Airport Hotel to support one of our members, management conceded defeat. The company replaced the general manager, paid $4,400 in stolen wages, and offered a modest wage increase to housekeepers, boosting wages of 10 workers by a total of over $15,000 per year.

“This victory is for all workers at the hotel. They treated us wrong for so long at Super 8 and it wasn’t until I joined Workers’ Dignity and we stood up united that Super 8 decided to change.” – Froylán, member and hotel worker.

In October, housekeeping and laundry workers at the downtown Sheraton Hotel joined Just Hospitality after a cleaning agency hired by Sheraton did not pay a full month of wages. After four actions and other public pressure, 10 workers won the full wages they had demanded in December.

The victory was the final of several gains, including

  • Owners paid a portion of unpaid wages to about 50 workers after Workers’ Dignity held our first protest at the hotel (estimated $25,000 – $35,000).
  • Management fired Sheraton’s general manager.
  • The Sheraton and Holiday Inn Express Downtown owner changed its employment policy. Housekeepers and laundry staff now receive a modest benefit package, including paid time off. Wage and benefit increases, conservatively estimated, total about $234,000 for 75 workers.

We know that this injustice is not a one-time thing. We know this happens to other workers elsewhere. And we will continue standing up.” – Fanny, member and Sheraton housekeeper
Cleaning workers held two assemblies to discuss common challenges, employer retaliation, and a list of demands for a Cleaning Workers Bill of Rights they will sign and publicly announce in 2015.

Members and Volunteers

In 2014, 100 low-wage laborers joined Workers’ Dignity as members. They organized coworkers to win back over $90,000 in stolen wages and improve pay and benefits in three hotels by $368,000 per year!

Workers’ Dignity expanded our Defend Your Rights trainings held in English, holding 12 workshops at the homeless shelter Room in the Inn, two historically Black churches, and in our organizing center. In December, we launched monthly membership meetings led by African American and other English-speaking members. This came on the heels of members’ trip to the New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice in New Orleans to learn first-hand how they have built a multi- racial center that includes STAND with Dignity, a Black worker group.

 Left, Workers’ Dignity member Chris facilitates a workshop. Above right, group photo after the second session.
Youth, Art, and Social Change

Youth, Art, and Social Change

Young people joined a 3-day workshop during winter break to make art social change. They wrote poetry, created posters, stenciled, painted, and made and played drums.

Women, Art, and Justice

Launched in 2013, we have continued bi-monthly gatherings to share experiences, skills, and activities among leaders and emerging leaders who are women.

Summer Leadership.

Evan and Rosa were the first members to join our 12-week summer organizing program, which included trainings, outreach to cleaning workers, and strategy development.

Join us!

Membership is open to all low-income workers who embrace our mission. We also seek allies as volunteers. There are many ways to pitch in. Contact us and learn more!

Steering Committee (Board) Members in 2014

Abraham Solomon, Aurelia Solano, Daniel López, Jairo Robles, John Taylor, Mariana López, Ricardo Flores, Patronilio García Reyes, Ben Wibking, Patrick Cate, Sara Zavaleta, Sarah Passino, Tristan Call.

Summer Leaders: Evan Regis, Rosa Ponce (12-week paid internship)

Organizers:

Brenda Pérez, brenda@workersdignity.org, 615-669-6679
Cristina Condori, cristina@workersdignity.org, 615-450-6522
Jack Willey, jack@workersdignity.org, 615-669-5351
Mario Mercado, mario@workersdignity.org, 615-601-2820

Training and Leadership Development

Training is a cornerstone of our work. 2014 highlights include:

Defend Your Rights
Over 600 workers were trained on how to defend their rights on the job. Eight members co-facilitated the workshops.

“Simply knowing our rights is not enough. We need to know that the key to defending our rights is unity. These workshops are spaces for us to explore ways to defend our own rights and gain confidence in solidarity with other workers.” – Kelly, member and former housekeeper

TN Workers Rising

Workers’ Dignity co-facilitated Tennessee’s first-ever bilingual worker organizing institutes, training 60 workers in Nashville and Knoxville in the spring and fall.

2nd Annual Justice Schools

30 workers participated in summer Justice Schools addressing root causes of economic exploitation and racial oppression, and social movements organizing for change.

Solidarity

Members stood with Black youth who led a series of local protest actions against racism and police brutality in the wake of the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and others. We joined with fast food workers from Show Me $15 who led strikes in several Nashville restaurants. We also expanded the coalition of community and labor organizations who joined the 2nd Annual Labor Day Parade, launched by Workers’ Dignity in 2013.

2014 Income and Expenses


 

 

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Workers’ Dignity 2015 Winter News Letter

Sheraton Victory at Last!

Sheraton housekeepers and laundry workers announced a major victor. On Jan. 3, after a months-long campaign, including four protest actions and preparations for a federal lawsuit, Sheraton management paid 10 workers the full amount of wages they have been demanding since August 2014. Workers won other demands as well. The General Manager was fired and management changed their personnel policy. Current employees at Sheraton and Holiday Inn Express report increased wages and benefits by an estimated total of $234,000 per year for 75 workers.

Super 8 Campaign a Success!

After a series of protest actions in front the Super 8 Airport Hotel, member Froylán Rodriguez (above) won $4,400 in stolen wages in October. Housekeepers report that hotel owners replaced the General Manager and increased wages from $2.50/room to $2.75/room for all housekeeping staff.  “This is victory for all workers at the hotel. They have treated us wrong for so long and it wasn’t until I joined Workers’ Dignity and we stood up united that Super 8 decided to change” – Froylán

Housekeepers Announce Wage-Theft at West End Courtyard Marriott


Several of the former Sheraton housekeepers also announced a campaign to recover unpaid wages for work at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel near Vanderbilt University. “I hope that Courtyard Marriott Management hears us and pays us our wages” – Mariela Pineda, former housekeeper at the Courtyard by Marriott Vanderbilt/West End


Just Hospitality Victories!


Workers’ Dignity member Norma, with Kelly, after she recovered unpaid wages from Courtyard Marriot in Cool Springs in October.


Worker’s Dignity members Ricardo and Kelly joined with Veronica to win back unpaid wages from a convenience store in November.

Solidarity with Black Lives Matter & Ayotzinapa


Worker’s Dignity members and supporters have stood in solidarity with people of color who are confronting state violence in the U.S. and Mexico. Members have joined protests sweeping Nashville in response to police killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and other members of the Black community. Members initiated a candlelight vigil in solidarity with the movement in Mexico demanding justice for the 43 teaching students disappeared by authorities in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

Tennessee Workers Rising


In November Worker’s Dignity and the Ironworkers Union facilitated the 2nd TN Workers Rising (left), a bilingual worker organizing institute, in Knoxville. 25 workers participated in the 2-day training. In October, members and organizers visited the New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice to learn from their experiences of building a multi-racial workers movement.


Welcome, Cristina!


In November, Cristina Condori joined the organizing team after years of helping lead immigrant and workers rights organizations in Memphis. Workers’ Dignity is hiring another organizer in early 2015. Help us continue to grow by becoming a monthly donor today! www.workersdignity.org/donate


Join The Fight!

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