Newsletter: Happy Fiscal New Year!

Dear Resident,

Happy Fiscal New Year!

October 1 marked the beginning of a new fiscal year (FY 2020) for District government. That means the budget we worked so hard on last spring is implemented, and we're now starting new investments in resources for District residents and workers! I want to highlight a few items that residents and workers can look forward to in FY 2020:

  • New wage garnishment protections and procedural safeguards for low-wage earners through my Wage Garnishment Fairness Amendment Act
  • An apprenticeship initiative within D.C. government for District residents and students with the launch of my Pathways to Government Careers Act 
  • An expanded Career Pathways Innovation Fund grant program that combines literacy and occupational training for the District’s adult jobseekers
  • A new work-based learning coordinator position within D.C. Public Schools and enhanced career and technical education programs in District public charter schools
  • Additional support for community-based organizations to help workers understand their rights under District employment law through a Wage and Hour Education Grants Program
  • A boost in education efforts around tipped wage workers’ rights and workplace protections by increasing workplace posters, informational websites, and public education campaigns

This has been an exciting start of the fiscal year for another reason: Our professional sports teams are in the playoffs! Our women’s basketball team, the Washington Mystics, are playing for the WNBA championship tonight. And tomorrow, our men’s baseball team, the Washington Nationals, are headed to BEAT LA and advance to the National League Championship series.

I grew up in a baseball-rooting family, but the reason I like sports is because it’s a common bond that ties our community together. Last night after an exciting win by the Nats, I stopped at Giant to get a few items. I was wearing my curly W red t-shirt. Several shoppersblack and white, younger and oldergave me high-fives and stopped to talk about the game. It was a bit disappointing to see that the Nats didn’t sell out last night (the high ticket prices are certainly a barrier) but I hope you’ll join me in cheering on our home teams, whether from the stands, your local restaurant or bar, or from home.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

Tuesday’s Legislative Session: The Council voted on a number of bills today that generated quite a bit of email, including the framework language for the Comprehensive Plan. I think the document before us today was much improved from the first reading in July, and I want to thank Chairman Mendelson and his staff for working with my office on a few of those improvements. The framework for the Comprehensive Plan is one of our best tools for making sure District residents feel the benefits of the economic development happening around them, and my hope is that some of today's changes will encourage more residents to stay in the District long-term.

We also voted today on an emergency bill, the Sanctuary Values Emergency Declaration Resolution of 2019, that clarifies D.C.'s policy when it comes to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I supported this legislation and want to thank the Chair of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, Charles Allen, for moving forward this bill that is consistent with our values.

Protecting Lower Wage District Workers: Today, I also introduced a bill that will increase job opportunities and fairness for District workers. The Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2019 will end the use of employment contracts that restrict workers from taking an additional job or future job with another business in the same industry. The bill will apply to workers who earn up to three times the District’s current minimum wage, which equals $87,654 annually.

Non-compete agreements have been used to limit the rights of everyone from custodial workers at WeWork to sandwich makers at Jimmy John’s. They put these workers in a bind. If workers take the skills they developed with one employer to their next job or an additional job, they risk a lawsuit by their current or former employer. If they don’t, they might lose out on better pay and/or benefits. In the worst cases, employees have been sued and had to decide whether to face their employer in court alone or pay out of pocket for a lawyer. 

Studies have found that some particularly harmful things happen when non-compete agreements are strictly enforced: wages decrease, workers are less likely to receive wage increases, and gender and racial wage gaps are exacerbated. My bill doesn’t restrict employers from protecting trade secrets or intellectual property, but it would penalize employers who retaliate against a worker who asked about their rights or filed a complaint. 

You can read more in my press release here or contact Margaret O’Hora on my staff with questions at mohora@dccouncil.us

Fall 2019 Workforce Rountables: You might remember from budget conversations in the spring that my Labor Committee recommended a one-year-only extension for workforce programs that haven’t provided reliable data showing District residents graduating with skills certifications and securing jobs. Usually a program’s funding is assumed to continue from year-to-year and budgeted three years in the future, but my hope has been to work with the Department of Employment Services to demonstrate improved results to be able to restore annually recurring funding next year.

It's now time to start revisiting the programs that received conditional funding: the Local Adult Training Program, D.C. Infrastructure Academy, Project Empowerment, and D.C. Career Connections. As part of my review process for the programs’ budgets in the next fiscal year, I requested performance data and will be holding several roundtables this fall to learn more about how these programs have improved with clearly-reported, positive outcomes for residents. Here are details about the roundtables:

  • Roundtable on the D.C. Infrastructure Academy & Local Adult Training Program: Wednesday, October 30, starting at 10:00am in Room 412 at the John A. Wilson Building
  • Roundtable on Project Empowerment & D.C. Career Connections: Thursday, November 21, starting at 10:00am in Room 500 at the John A. Wilson Building

You can learn more about the information that my Committee has requested, responses about programs from the Department of Employment Services, and information about upcoming hearings at elissasilverman.com/workforceroundtables.

COMMUNITY UPDATES

Hear Me on Kojo’s Politics Hour: If you missed me the other week on The Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood, you can replay my segment here! We discussed my thoughts on the legacy of Mark Plotkin, background on the D.C. Arts and Humanities Commission mishegas, what’s happening with the latest lawsuit involving our new sports betting program, and more. You never know where the conversation will go on The Politics Hour, and this segment was full of unpredictable moments with Kojo and Tom as usual!

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act and the 35th anniversary of the Family Violence and Prevention Services Act. It is also the 10th anniversary of the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Spread Love DC campaign, which sparks conversations about healthy relationships around the D.C. area. There are over 30 events happening this October to support survivors of domestic violence and the programs that serve them. Take a look at a calendar of upcoming events and ways to support here.

Upcoming Events:

Thanks so much for reading! Let’s Go Mystics and Nats!

Elissa.

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