Get to Know: Workers Defense Project

This is the first in a regular series of blogs spotlighting organizations tackling major issues in Central Texas.

Guest post from Workers Defense Project:

Workers Defense Project (WDP) is a membership-based organization that empowers low-income workers to achieve fair employment through education, direct services, organizing and strategic partnerships. WDP was founded in August 2002 by employees and volunteers of Casa Marianella, a local Austin shelter, to address the problem of unpaid wages for Austin’s low-wage workers.

WDP is a worker center that provides low-wage workers, concentrating on the construction industry, with legal solutions for wage theft, discrimination and injury cases, as well as ESL classes, safety classes, and the leadership development they need to improve their working and living conditions. With these important resources, WDP members are able to change the conditions that negatively impact working families. WDP provides a source of power and hope for low-wage workers and is part of a national movement of organizations that seek to achieve sustainable change for working families. The organization is one of the most established worker centers in the South and a leader in fighting for fair conditions for working people.

WDP envisions a future where all low-wage and immigrant workers are treated with dignity and respect. In the wake of the 2016 election, WDP has renewed its commitment to fighting for the rights of low-wage workers and immigrants disproportionately affected by the policies of the current administration and its impact on local and statewide governance. This push back includes winning big changes in the construction industry and beyond, including:

  • Passing an ordinance requiring paid sick leave for all employees within the City of Austin;
  • Ensuring paid rest breaks for all construction workers in Austin and Dallas;
  • Suing the State of Texas over the anti-immigrant law SB 4, and moving every major city in Texas to join the lawsuit;
  • Winning fair pay and safe working conditions for more than 16,000 construction workers through WDP’s innovative Better Builder® program; and
  • Recovering more than $1.7 million in unpaid wages for more than 1,800 workers.
There are many opportunities to get involved with WDP, but none are more valued than our volunteers. Register HERE to attend our Monthly Volunteer Orientation and Volunteer Night, the first Thursday of the month at the Austin office. The next opportunity is May 3rd, 2018, 6-8PM. Contact elizabeth@workersdefense.org to learn more about the volunteer program or sign up for volunteer updates. Sign up HERE to receive our monthly e-newsletter, and click HERE to make a donation. We encourage you to visit our website or write info@workersdefense.org to learn more. WDP is grateful for the support of the community- we couldn’t do our work without you!

Introducing IT: Indivisible Technology

Introducing a new effort: Indivisible Technology Austin, the IT group that can help you #resist.

If you hate the Trumpist agenda but love technology, we’d love to have your help. We’ll have regular working meetings for whoever can join – the first will be on Thursday, Oct. 5. We also plan to have a Challenge Team in the upcoming ATX Political Hackathon. There’s lots to do, and the more help we have, the more we can achieve. Sign up today!

We’ll be posting the occasional technology-related items here on the blog, and the first one, on the critical topic of information security, is below. You may have seen similar posts in this space before, and you’ll probably see more in the future – this stuff is important!

This is from a resource page provided by the national-level Indivisible site:

DIGITAL SECURITY CHECKLIST

  1. Identify a trusted security expert or advisor for your group if possible.
  2. Take an inventory of your main communications systems and assess what your top information security priorities and risks might be.
  3. Keep all your systems up to date; install legitimate security patches.
  4. Review the privacy settings on your social media accounts.
  5. Use strong passwords on all your important accounts.
  6. Enable 2-Factor Authentication whenever possible.
  7. No security system is perfect; assume anything you write or send online may become public.

Read all the details here about each of these points, share this information widely, and take steps today to keep your online activity safe. If you have questions or need help, let us know.

How to Make a #WelcometoAustin Kit

The mayor announced that as many as 7,500 people could be coming to Austin soon, seeking shelter from Harvey’s wrath. There are a lot of ways to help, but one way is to provide a welcome kit for new arrivals. Like you, we’ve seen many lists of needed items, and different groups are collecting for different needs. But everyone needs something to get started with, and here’s a way to help.

The city is calling for 6,000 welcome kits to be delivered to Austin Disaster Recovery Network at their Hope Thrift Store location at

1122 E 51st Street
Austin, Texas 78723
Mon-Sat, 10AM-5PM

Prepping a welcome kit is not a totally inexpensive proposition, we get that. If you are in a position to give, that’s amazing, and it might also be a good project to share with a friend or another family. If you’re not, but you have time, Austin Disaster Recovery Network and many other organizations need volunteers. You can also make a contribution to ADRN or other local groups involved in Harvey relief.

See list of welcome kit contents below.

Welcome kits should include the following:

KIT ITEMS:

  • New Towel
  • New Washcloth
  • Soap
  • Tissue
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine products
  • Shampoo
  • Comb
  • A note of encouragement

ADDITIONAL IMPORTANT ITEMS:

  • New Blanket
  • New Pillow
  • Wipes
  • Baby bottles/formula
  • Diapers
  • Baby food

HOW TO CREATE A WELCOME KIT:

  1. Get a reusable bag(s) or plastic container with a lid
  2. Fill the container with listed items
  3. Drop your donation off

PLUS: Austin Animal Center needs supplies for lost animals and pets of people in shelter:

  • 500 large crates
  • Used sheets and towels to line the crates

Donate to:
Austin Animal Center
7201 Levander Loop
Austin, TX 78702
11am to 7pm, 7 days a week

Additional Voter Registration Training Classes Available

Two new voter registration training classes have been added for us! Get trained to register voters in Travis County (plus, thanks to a  reciprocal agreement with Williamson County, you will be able to get a certificate to register there as well).

PLEASE NOTE YOU MUST RSVP HERE FOR THIS TRAINING.

Training dates are April 15 and May 20th 10 am to 11:30 at the First UU Church, 4700 Grover Ave, Austin, TX 78756.

Train to Register Voters!

There is an easy way to help expand the voter rolls in Travis County and beyond. You can become a Volunteer Deputy Registrar (VDR) of voters. With 159 people a day (net) moving to the Austin area, according to this report, it is imperative that we stay on top of voter registrations.

Regularly schedule VDR training at the Travis County Tax Office, 5501 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751 is the first Tuesday of each month with session scheduled 10:30-11:30 am, 12:30-1:30 pm, and 6:30-7:30 pm. Call 512.854.9473 for more information.

Training only takes about an hour and thanks to our awesome Travis County Registrar of Voters staff, they have recently made available to us a number of additional training days. Please take advantage of this training as soon as you can. Once trained, your VDR credentials are good through December 2018! What’s more, if you like, you can take advantage of the generous reciprocal VDR opportunity with Williamson County, so that you can register voters who live in that county as well.

So, you’ll know how to respond the next time a coworker mentions that they just moved to a new apartment over the weekend or you get introduced to a new employee who just moved here from out of state. You can ask, “Are you registered to vote at your current address?” And you can make it easy for them to get registered!

Each training session requires an RSVP so that they can have the correct number of materials available. Below are the next three special training days. Sign up now!

Call for video submissions!

Hi all! We are producing a short video for the March 5th Indivisible event in Austin TX, and we want to include you! And guess what, taking part is SUPER EASY! We are looking for a diverse sampling of your voices to tell us WHY YOU STAND INDIVISIBLE. Just follow the filming instructions and submit your video files today. The deadline to submit is Monday, February 26th.

Click here for further instructions on submitting your video

How to Get More Involved with IATX

Your Indivisible Austin steering committee has been working hard over the last couple of weeks to figure out just what the heck we’re all doing as part of this incredible movement, and who and what we need to do even more.

We have needs, y’all. So many needs. And the good news is we have lots and lots of people. So we put out this little volunteer survey to match the people with the needs! Take the survey now and you (and we!) will be so happy you did!

Have you loved being part of our in-person actions? If so, are you interested in helping to plan more in the future? We have an opportunity for that!

Are you a #txlege political animal who knows the ins-and-outs of the business under the pink dome? That’s expertise we can use!

Maybe you’re a social media maven who can help us take our online message to ever greater heights?

Media or PR whiz? Need ’em.

Security experts? Want ’em.

“People” people who can help recruit folks, plan training opportunities, and just be all around nice folks to people who want to learn about Indivisible? Yes, please.

And so. many. more.

Take the survey now

Thank you!

Call for Volunteers – March 5 Citywide Gathering & Rally

Help out with our March 5 Citywide Gathering & Rally! This will be a fun and inspirational event featuring live music, food, volunteer fair, and special guest speakers including Congressman Lloyd Doggett, TX35. Please sign up below:

 

Thanks! We look forward to creating an incredible event for everyone.