2014 Justice in Review


On December 17, 2014, Law@theMargins Editor Ms. Chaumtoli Huq hosted a Facebook chat with several contributors to the blog on looking back at 2014 and reviewing the year’s events through a social justice lens.  You can read the full chat on the event page.

Contributors included: Maurice Pianko, Founder of Intern Justice; Rocio Alejandra Avila, formerly Senior Fellow, Women Employment Rights Clinic of Golden Gate University; Sharmin Sadequee, Organizer on Criminal Justice Issues; Victor Narro, Project Director for UCLA Labor Center.  Below are some excerpts from the chat including comments by participants.

On identifying positive developments in the field of labor, immigration, criminal justice, contributors noted that there was an increased awareness of unpaid internships and wage theft, a growth in organizing domestic workers in California, that charges were dropped against Dr. Sami Al Arian who was targeted by Bush’s war on terror policies and other victories for political prisoners, that API communities connected with Black Lives Matter to build multiracial coalitions, increased use of innovative tactics and strategies by young organizers which inspire hope,  that the administrative relief was a great achievement albeit limited for undocumented immigrants, and a culture of activism built through the arts.

On organizing in the fast-food industry: 

Rocio-Avila:  In my opinion, the fast food workers campaign has, thus far, been a success in large part due to its sheer numbers of workers joining its movement, who are actively organizing for a living wage and forming alliances with other workers to build worker power.  There has been a shift in the cultural and political framework around minimum wage and living wage issues, which until recently wasn’t in the mainstream’s public consciousness, into a broader movement that links such issues impacting fast food workers to other human rights, such as the right to a prevailing wage, housing, and education.

I believe that the fast food workers can learn from the domestic workers campaign about short-term and long-term campaign goals. It’s easy to want immediate results, but that seldom happens when one is working to achieve social change, so it’s key that fast workers remember that it may take a while before industry standards change according to their demands. And, in the interim, they are making gains by changing workers lives who may be raising their voices for the first time and becoming community leaders for the long-haul and those gains are equally as important.

In response to Senate’s CIA Torture Report:

Sharmin Sadequee:  I think one of the issues is the image US has established for itself as liberal-democratic-just-modern-enlightened society and how the report demonstrates conducts that goes against those ideals and values.

On Fair Labor Standard Act

Maurice: “Decisions like the one in Integrity Staffing are going to continue to chip away at the FLSA protections that Americans should hold dear.

One area that received minimal attention is the rights of Native American communities.  Law@theMargins promises to focus on these issues in 2015.  Participants shared a report on the Native American Movement.

Trends for 2015

  • Sharmin Sadequee says we will see more prisoners and their families impacted by the war on terror and other criminal justice issues speaking out. “The issue of political prisoners is not just about them, it’s also about community resistance, and we must remember they are paying the price for our freedom. And their families are already leading campaigns to expose the rights violations and struggling and connecting with movements.”
  • Rocio reminds us that the new DOL regulations will go into effect and new federal DOL regulations for “companions” will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. This will provide overtime protections for millions of workers at the federal level, who absent state labor protections have been excluded since the inception of FLSA.
  • Maurice encourages greater organizing: “I think it will be up to advocates of organized labor and workers rights to make 2015 a year of growth for workers.”
  • Victor: “The challenges await the immigrant rights movement in 2015 on how to protect the rights of the 7-8 million excluded immigrants and their families.”

Ways to Get Involved Shared by Contributors and Participants:

Law@theMargins is a social media platform aimed to collectively amplify issues and voices marginalized by our legal system. Read great articles by lawyers, scholars and activists on the blog: www.lawatthemargins.com and join Law@theMargins FB Page


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