On March 13, 2013 the Richmond General Membership Branch of the IWW voted to endorse the Richmond City Council ordinance to “ban the box” on applications for city jobs that inquire about an applicants criminal conviction history. Below is our statement.
Re: Ordinance No. 2013-40
“To amend Ord. No. 2013-40, which amends ch. 2, art. VI, div. 1 of the City Code by adding therein a new section 2-1119 for the purpose of prohibiting the inclusion of questions pertaining to an applicant’s criminal conviction history on initial applications for City employment, for the purpose of providing for certain exceptions to such prohibition. (As Amended)”
The Richmond, Virginia Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) would like to extend its support for the ordinance No. 2013-40, which removes from all initial applications for employment with the City of Richmond the question pertaining to the applicant’s criminal conviction history.
We believe this is a positive step towards recognizing and addressing the roots of poverty in Richmond and the nation at large. According to the ‘Mayors Anti-Poverty Commission Report’ published in January 2013, of the 35,000 Richmond city residents who fall below the poverty line at least 16,800 of those residents are unemployed and 15,600 are under-employed, working only part-time or part-year. In the same report, the commission offers recommendations to ending poverty that include removing “…barriers to escaping poverty and strengthening low income households and families.”
One such barrier to escaping poverty is the stigma attached to being labeled a “felon.” This condition contributes to what is called recidivism, the tragic cycle of imprisonment and re-arrest. Recidivism often hinges upon an individual’s ability to find employment and reintegrate into the economy. If an individual is unable to accomplish this, they are significantly more likely to return to prison, making it even more difficult for them and their family to escape poverty.
While this ordinance doesn’t expunge that label from their record, it does provide an opportunity for the applicant to get their foot in the door with an interview and let their own words testify to their employability, rather than an ambiguous mark on a piece of paper.
In closing, we would like to thank you, Councilperson Mosby, for sponsoring this ordinance and thank you, Vice President Robertson, Councilpersons Agelasto, Newbille, & Trammel, for co-sponsoring it. We strongly urge City Council to approve this ordinance, and consider expanding its scope to the private sector. Such a measure would further place us on the path to addressing the underlying structural causes of poverty in our city.
Industrial Workers of the World
Richmond, Virginia General Membership Branch
Reinstate Rain To Her Job at Ellwood Thompson’s! Demand An End To Retaliation!
Richmond, Va – On behalf of Rain Burroughs, the Richmond, Virginia General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and Food & Retail Workers United (FRWU) delivered a formal letter [ download here ] to Rick Hood (owner) and Tommy Langford (store manager) on December 21, 2012 requesting that Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market reinstate Rain Burroughs immediately to an equivalent job with comparable pay, benefits, responsibilities, and hours of work. We have yet to receive any response, and we ask for your support.
Rain Burroughs was granted, via the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), leave in order to assist her mother who was struggling with severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Burroughs’ leave ended on November 20, 2012 when she returned to work at Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market. Rather respect a loyal worker and honoring the commitment that had been made to them, Ellwood Thompson’s chose to label Burroughs as a new hire and placed her on “probation”. This action by Ellwood Thompson’s violates federal law which states:
“Job guaranteed leave means that the employer, in most circumstances, must return the employee to the same or equivalent job after leave, even if the employee has been replaced in the interim. See, 29 U.S.C. §2614(a). An equivalent job is one that has comparable pay, benefits, responsibilities, and hours of work. Id. at §2614(a).”
Despite being an ‘at will’ employee, Burroughs’ status as a new hire apparently opened the door for her termination which occurred a mere three weeks after she returned from FMLA leave. This in theory would not have been possible were she not on “probation”.
According to Burrough’s, after being a loyal employee for over two years, she received a written warning for arriving late to work, following some confusion over a last minute schedule change, and was summarily terminated after arriving late a second time. These two actions were enough for Ellwood Thompson’s to decide to fire an employee who was experiencing great stress and upheaval in her family.
Who is Ellwood Thompson’s?
Ellwood Thompson’s is a Richmond, Virginia based natural and organic grocery store, owned and operated by Rick Hood since 1989. In recent news, Mr. Hood has decided to expand his budding empire into Rockville, Maryland under the guise of Dawson’s Market.
According to the Ellwood Thompson’s website, under the “mission & values” section, they aspire…
“…to be the heart and soul of our community through a strong commitment to local and organic foods.” and continue to claim that “nearly every single decision we make in the store is based off of that statement. We know that every choice we make and every action we take will somehow, big or small, directly impact our community.”
“Big or small”, the “heart and soul” of our community has “impacted” a community member and worker whose very subsistence relies on the kindness and understanding of that community.
We’d like to remind Ellwood Thompson’s that “community” is more than the relationship between their products and the consumer. Community includes the workers behind those products, along the entire supply chain, from the farm to the table. The contribution of those who sew the seed, harvest the crops, process and package, distribute, transport, and stock the shelves are an inseparable part of your businesses success and we will not be taken for granted. We demand respect and dignity for all workers, and take seriously watch words of our Union, “an injury to one, is an injury to all.”
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. on his birthday, a man who died while standing up for the rights of sanitation workers to organize in Memphis, Tennesee, we extend his words to you Ellwood Thompson’s:
“We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles. We don’t need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, “God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”
Take Action! Phone Blast / Email Blast! A Communications Blockade!
In the interest of all workers, we are calling upon you to help send a short and sharp message to Ellwood Thompson’s management. We will jam their phone lines during the busiest time of the day, lunch time, making it clear that we do not approve of their definition of community and treatment of workers.
We are calling on Ellwood Thompson’s to reinstate Rain Burroughs immediately to an equivalent job with comparable pay, benefits, responsibilities, and hours of work. In doing so, Ellwood Thompson’s would be sending a strong message to both its employees and community, that they are indeed interested in being a responsible employer and community member which respects their employee’s right to take Family Medical Leave.
This is an on-going call for national support. It will continue until justice is won. Please call (frequently) the following numbers (804) 359-7525 and ask to speak with human resources (Lauri Colbert) or a store manager (Todd Taylor, Gray Carson, Tommy Langford) . You may give the main office a call as well (804) 612-1024 and leave a message with Rick Hood.
Here is a sample script:
Hello, my name is _________ and I am calling in support of Rain Burroughs in demanding that she be immediately reinstated to her former position and for there to be an end to retaliation against employees who are trying to do what they can to care for their families. We urge you to meet and negotiate with Burrough’s representatives in the IWW.
Richmond Industrial Workers of the World
Happy Holidays Fellow Workers! Our gift to you is this diagram, showing your relation as a worker to our economy and the enormous, but possible, task ahead for us all.
Yes, you are “a” consumer, but most importantly you are the worker. In fact you probably work and produce much more with your labor than you consume. This needs to change, right? In order for us to do so, we need to occupy each of these industries. Then we must organize, strike and take over these industries.
The jury is still out to whether or not revolution will involve violence, but if it does, be rest assured that it will be perpetrated by those who currently hold power, the capitalist and their State.
We can prepare but only so much, and much of that preparation is in how organized the working class is and how much influence we have collectively with our friends and family who happen to be in positions of authority, (ie. police and army).
So, it only makes sense that depending on how organized we are leading up to that point, the less violent the transition will ultimately be.
Remember, the working class out-number the owning class by a great deal. Our goal is to abolish the class system, completely, where the owning class and the working class become one in the same.
We believe this can only be achieved through a revolutionary organization of industrial workers, from all industries, skilled and unskilled. We believe that the Industrial Workers of the World is that organization.
Sorry, registration for the IWW Organizer Training 101 is CLOSED. We have reached out capacity.
Help Temp Workers Organize & Fight Back!
The continuation of high unemployment is eroding the bargaining power of the working class, and without an organization to collectively harness that power, the working class will continue to be at the will of the economy and it’s architects, the employing class.
Many of the workers unable to secure permanent and/or full time employment have been increasingly turning to temporary employment agencies for relief. However, uncertain whether or not they will be chosen for work that day, many leave distraught and empty handed. Those who do find work, are paid a pittance of a wage, barely providing any sort security or stability, unsure of what tomorrow will bring.
We as members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) find that these conditions are intolerable and can be changed, and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.
Join us, as a member or supporter, with the Richmond, Virginia chapter of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) [ www.richmondiww.org ] as we campaign to organize and support the temporary and day laborers within the Greater Richmond area. We need your help to raise $800 dollars by December 26, 2012.
With your support the Industrial Workers of the World will be able to provide assistance in the following ways:
• Healthy Bag Lunches (delivered once a month) with Workers Rights information inside.
• Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Training by a certified IWW Union member.
• Know Your Rights Training
• Union Organizer Training
• Transportation Assistance
• Access to FREE safety equipment (ie.hard hats, boot laces, warm gloves, safety glasses, beanies, etc.)
Please consider becoming a supporter by donating today. For every donor who donates a minimum of $100 dollars will receive their own Union designed, manufactured, and printed Richmond Industrial Workers of the World T-Shirt.
Donate Here! [ https://www.wepay.com/xox4csn/donations/temp-worker-organizing ]
Richmond Industrial Workers of the World
Temporary Worker Organizing Committee