Despite the pandemic and business opposition and because of effective work with allies in a year unlike any in living memory, the metro-area labor movement scored two major victories on Tuesday as the DC Council held its last meeting of the year.
The first was the unanimous passage of the “Right to Return to Work” bill, which overcame a stealthy but ferocious campaign by the business lobby. “We did it!” tweeted DC Jobs with Justice Organizer Nikko Bilitza after the 13-0 vote. “Thousands of District workers now have hope that they can return to the jobs they once held before this scourge hit us,” said UNITE HERE Local 25 Executive Secretary-Treasurer John Boardman.
The second win was the inclusion of an amendment that will protect the bargaining rights of employees affected by the creation of the new Department of Buildings, protecting seniority and the ability to organize new workers.
The Metro Council and its affiliates and allies conducted a marathon of lobbying meetings with members of the DC Council last week to ensure the passage of these bills without weakening amendments.
Exhausted but jubilant, Metro Council president Dyana Forester said that “Our work continues,” pointing to the stalled legislation introduced by Council Member Silverman which sought to address the lack of collaboration and transparency in DCPS plan’s to return to in-person teaching. Forester praised Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I, At-Large) for her strong advocacy on both issues, and thanked outgoing DC Councilmembers David Grosso (D, At-Large) and Brandon Todd (D, Ward 4) for their service. The DC Council will reconvene on January 5th welcoming newly elected council members Christina Henderson (I, At-Large) and Janeese Lewis George (D, Ward 4).
- David Stephen