Long Island Jobs with Justice Solidarity Fund
Take a moment and reflect on how the interactions we have with our community are shaped by relations – shopper to retail worker, hungry patron to server, patient to nurse, coworker to coworker, and so on. It’s fair to say that for many of us the majority of people we talk to throughout our days are on the clock while we’re speaking to them. Then there are the masses of other community members we probably won’t interact with at all going through our days – construction workers, line cooks, agricultural workers, and cleaners for example who work behind the scenes. Collectively as workers, these community members provide us with all the material goods and comforts many of us enjoy.
When we see workers at their jobs and ask questions like “how are you?” the ways they can answer are limited, and more often than not don’t leave room for honesty. Responses will usually be something like “Good, thanks. How can I help you?” The workers we don’t see are totally silenced by virtue of not being in a place to interact with consumers. In either case speaking up about struggles under the eyes of their employer can put a worker’s job in jeopardy and therefore the ability to eat or keep a roof over their head.
If this weren’t so, then when we asked workers “how are you?” we would hear things like “I’m out of food for the week,” “I can’t afford rent,” or “all I do is work but I am still struggling.” But we don’t hear these things because we are isolated by economics and our relative positions on the supply chain under capitalism. Countless numbers of our friends and neighbors are experiencing hardship in one of the richest states in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, and we as a community need to uplift these marginalized voices.
Long Island Jobs With Justice organizes in coalition with worker-member organizations by creating spaces to share their struggles. This can look like trips to Albany to advocate for legislation, informational forums to empower workers against crimes like wage theft, or local gatherings to support policies and build community. To participate, workers often need to do what they can literally afford the least – take time off of work.
That’s why LIJWJ is renewing fundraising for our Solidarity Fund. When workers take time off of work or away from their families to speak at an event about their lives, they ought to be compensated for their time. By donating to this fund you will be providing some security to workers to speak up and share their struggles. Worker testimonies are powerful messages that humanize the effects of policies and combat isolation in our heavily segregated society. As an organizer and/or advocate for justice, compensating workers for time off from work is one of the best ways to amplify the voices of the people we stand for.
History of the Solidarity Fund
LIJWJ was founded twenty years ago in 2003, and for half of our existence we have had a fund exclusively for direct aid to workers and their families. The fund has evolved as community needs have evolved and emergencies arisen. What is now our solidarity fund was initially a scholarship fund for DREAMers, then shifted into a rapid response fund for people facing deportation and immigration detention. When the COVID Pandemic began, the fund once again pivoted to providing emergency help to excluded workers who found themselves abandoned by the state when the economy shut down.
We have 20 years of experience coalition building on Long Island, and our current organizing moment demands that workers be centered in new, more empowering ways. Over the next two weeks we hope you’ll help us reach a goal of $5000 to ensure that our past and present crises don’t repeat themselves because we’ll have seen justice be done.