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 (Updated: May 30, 1998)

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The National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice

Ms. Kim Bobo


Director's Report

April 16, 1999

Interfaith Committees:    There continues to be interest in developing new groups.   A new one just formed in New Orleans, and we are working on organizing meetings in Hartford and Philadelphia.

In addition to developing new groups, there are many groups that need strengthening particularly with fundraising and staffing.   We will conduct a workshop with groups in California, and we're working to develop additional sources of funds.    In addition, we need to develop more options for training and networking for key leaders and staff.

Labor Day:   We are working with the AFL-CIO to update the general Labor Day Outreach materials.   We are much better prepared to handle the media interest right around Labor Day.

In addition, we've received a special grant from the ACTA foundation to develop and distribute Catholic adult catechetical materials for Labor Day.    We have to turn these materials around very quickly, so we would appreciate Board members' help in writing the resources.    See rough
outline in the packet.

National Religion-Labor Conference:    The logistical details are coming together for the National Religion-Labor Conference on October 8-10, 1999  in Los Angeles, immediately preceding the AFL-CIO convention.   We still
have a fair amount of work to do to flesh out the program and ensure solid participation.    As soon as the brochure is ready, we hope Board members will help distribute it through your networks.    And participate of course.

Poultry:    There's good solid progress in several regions, but still no real national campaign.   We've made good progress on our worker rights manuals, and should have two finished soon.   We are working to figure out what are the national hooks that can help unify constituents and allies -- perhaps the Congressional angles can help unify a campaign. And, we are beginning to identify contacts and approaches for several
other states.

Religious Employers Project:    We are delighted to have one "positive" model to lift up in this work, as described in the Board materials. There is much conversation and work (and some tension) within faith groups on these issues.    Although much of this would have been happening without us, we are helping the conversations in many places. We are looking for ways to develop more internal advocacy groups within
faith groups and orders.

Sweatshops:   There continues to be widespread interest among congregations in sweatshops.   Our "Challenging Sweatshops" materials should have been out sooner, but are coming.    I'm not sure what the best role for us ultimately is.   Perhaps it's just highlighting and supporting existing campaigns (Nike, Van Huesen, etc).   Perhaps it is really pushing more school codes, like New York City is doing.    Or perhaps, we should be pushing for consistent Department of Labor policies or complaint forms. 

Nursing homes:   We've begun work to develop intensive work around nursing homes.   We don't envision a national campaign, but we are exploring ways to strengthen religious involvement in the dozens of local efforts underway.

Media:   Toure, our new media coordinator, has a journalism background. He is going to greatly expand our skills in working with the media. We continue to have good media coverage on most things we do, although we are looking to place more stories in denominational publications that can
be recruitment vehicles for new folks.

Future religious leaders:   We continue to work a fair amount with future religious leaders through seminaries and religious programs such as MCC, JVC, and LVC.   We are particularly excited about getting the seminary track of the conference developed and promoted.    We have also had a
conversation with the Organizing Institute folks about recruitment at seminaries.

Faith outreach:   There continues to be great interest among faith groups in worker justice issues.    Upcoming denominational events in which staff and board members are leading workshops are giving presentations include:   Jubilee Justice (RC in July), Economic Justice Conference (UCC
in June), Women of the ELCA (July), Spirited Women in Action (NCC in April/May), Presbyterian Women's Advocacy conference (2000).   We would like to use both the Labor Day materials and the religion-labor conference to further reach out to faith groups.

Union outreach:     We have continued our efforts to work closely with those unions that are doing the most organizing work.    We continue to have strong ties with UFCW and RWDSU, because of poultry, and with SEIU because of our work with nursing home and hospital workers.  I met the
other day with John Wilhelm, the President of HERE, to strengthen our ties with that union because we work with hotel workers in many cities. Because of our work with locked out steelworkers, we've developed a good relationship with several key staff at the USWA.   We have requested a
meeting with the President to strengthen our ties.    We understand that UAW intends to do more organizing, and so we will reconnect with Bob King, the new organizing director.

Fundraising:   We're doing alright with our foundation fundraising, but we need to work on our religious support if we are to meet our budget this year.   In addition, we need to be developing our organizational ability to attract and nurture individual donors.   The fundraising committee will be looking at our plans for large and small donor development.    We want to involve the board more, e specially in the development of large donors.

We've begun some discussions with the Campaign for Human Development and the AFL-CIO about the possibility of developing a special initiative fund for starting and developing new interfaith committees.   We're not quite sure where this will go, but it seems an important direction for supporting the emergence of groups.

We got a special grant from the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock to hire Kim Klein to provide fundraising consulting and training for three days.    We've arranged for her to spend time with me, for her to lead a workshop at the conference, and for her to work with
the Board at our December meeting.   Kim is one of the best in the country for nonprofit fundraising.   I'm delighted to have her help.

A key question for our fundraising and organizational development is whether or not we should move from a mailing list, with some donors, to a more formal membership.   There are pros and cons to this.   I've asked both the education and the fundraising committee to discuss this some. I'm not ready to make a firm decision yet, without some experimentation
with our list.

Legal Matters:    As you may recall, we got our 501(c)(3) within six weeks of submitting the application.   We then applied for our state sales tax exemption and were denied.   We appealed it, and were denied again.   So, we asked for a formal hearing with a judge.   We had the hearing in December.   The judge issued a ruling saying we were eligible
for our sales tax exemption.    We have not yet gotten the formal letter from the state, but we're told it is on the way.    Jerry Kendall at John Marshall Law School "defended" us.

Our auditor is working on our audit.   It should be finished within the next month or so.

Staffing:   We've had several staff turnovers since last Board meeting.  Our new office manager and receptionist is Bridget Harris, with whom you have probably talked.    Our new public relations coordinator is Toure Mohammed.   Our new poultry advocate in North Carolina is Deborah Young.
  We've hired a part-time graphic design intern, Orlando Ornelas, who is an art student at DePaul University.    All of them are wonderful additions competent, committed and positive spirits.

Office & equipment:    Our office continues to be a wonderful place to work sunny, spacious, clean and pleasant.    We' ve been learning to use the new risograph to do some printing jobs.   It prints at 120 pages per minute for about .5 cents per page.   We recently purchased a used
collator to complement the risograph.     We've had a few problems with our networked computers and have had to resort to an "expert" to help clean up configuration problems.    It also looks like we need to buy a
better color printer with postscript simm for our design work (anyone know anything about this?).  Despite a few kinks, we have a fairly sophisticated low-budget computer system.

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