Partnership between DOL and Interfaith Worker Justice

Per the public interest organization:
In the past few years, the Interfaith Worker Justice and local interfaith committees have been building partnerships with local, state, and national Department of Labor (DOL) staff. These partnerships have sought to:
* Inform workers, especially low-wage and immigrant workers, of their rights in the workplace. At the national level, bulletin inserts were jointly created in nine languages that have been and continue to be distributed to workers through congregations. In local communities, DOL staff have provided educational workshops to workers.
* Train advocates to better support workers in seeking justice in the workplace. Because many worker advocates—pastors, social workers, immigrant advocates, and community organizers— are unfamiliar with the basic labor laws, they often don’t recognize basic law law violations that workers experience. Local DOL staff have partnered with local interfaith groups to train advocates about labor laws, so they can be more effective advocates.
* Create safe spaces and ways for workers to file complaints with DOL offices. Many workers, especially immigrant workers, are fearful of government agencies. And no one would suggest that the DOL procedures are particularly user-friendly. Thus, DOL staff and religious advocates have partnered to find new ways to support workers in filing complaints. Some groups are testing new simplified complaint forms. Other groups are forming workers’ centers, where workers can drop in for help. Others are looking to revive parish-based labor schools that create a safe space for workers to both file complaints and learn to organize.
The best time to begin developing partnerships between the religious community and the DOL is now. More importantly, low-wage workers need the joint efforts of the religious community and government agencies in order to challenge unjust employers.
Contact your local DOL Wage and Hour office. Invite the director or deputy director to talk with members of your interfaith group, local congregation or union local. Ask the director to describe local industries with particular problems in your area. Discuss ways that the religious community might help meet the goals described above.
For more information
Contact Kim Bobo at kim@iwj.org.
Department of Labor
The Department of Labor has a website that provides many of its background information sheets. To visit, go to www.dol.gov. If you have a specific wage and hour question, you can call the new Wage-Hour toll-free information and helpline, available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your time zone at 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243).
Interstate Labor Standards Association (ILSA)
This is an organization of the state labor standards agencies that enforce such issues as child labor, wage and hour, prevailing wage, and some workplace safety. For a list of the state contacts and an overview of the issues covered by state labor organizations, visit www.ilsa.net.
Young Worker Safety and Health Network
This is a network of organizations working on young worker safety and health issues. For a list of all state labor agency child labor contacts, visit www.osha.gov/SLTC/teenworkers/networkmembers.html.

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