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Response Started: Sunday, May 2, 2010 4:25:42 PM   Response Modified: Monday, May 3, 2010 8:15:21 PM
1. Candidate Last Name:
2. Candidate First Name
3. Office Seeking
Council Chair
4. Ward or At-Large
5. Party
6. Campaign Address:
Committee Name: - Kwame For Chair
Street Address: - 517 H Street NE
City: - Washington
State: - DC
Zip: - 20002
7. Candidate Contact Information:
Phone: - 202-702-3410
Fax: - 202-702-3410
Email: -
8. Treasurer Name & Address:
Treasurer Name: - Dawn Cromer
Street Address: - 3330 Denver Street SE
City: - Washington
State: - DC
Zip: - 20020
9. Does your campaign accept PAC contributions?
10. Restrictions on PAC contributions
No Response
11. Previous Elected/Appointed Office
1 - At Large Councilmember
12. Term of Previous Office
1 - 5
13. Have you ever received the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO endorsement?
14. When?
2004 and 2008
15. Have you ever assisted a labor organization to achieve any of its goals?
16. If Yes Please Explain:
Passed new laws including: 1. Compliance Unit Establishment Act of 2008 2. Jobs for DC Residents Amendment Act of 2007 3. Smokefree Workplaces legislation 4. Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008 5. Enhanced Professional Security Amendment Act 6. Funded the reopening of Phelps Vocational Education School
17. Please explain why you seek labor's endorsement?
Our city is built by people who strive every day to make the District a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Labor has played a critical role in organizing the voice of average citizens and making sure they have their rightful place in our democracy. Labor has also fought for issues that I care about such as fair wages, affordable health care, and economic equality.
18. In May of 2008 the D.C. City Council passed Paid Sick Leave for most private sector employees in the city. The law went into effect in November of 2008. However, the Fenty administration has not promulgated rules to implement the law in D.C. As a result, D.C. workers eligible for this mandated benefit have gone over a year and a half without "Paid Sick Leave". This administration seems only to implement and enforce the laws that they are in agreement with. D.C. Workers have waited long enough. Will you join with the Employment Justice Center and labor to demand that "Paid Sick Leave" rules are to be implemented immediately?
19. In 2007 the Large Retailer Accountability Act which requires that retail stores larger than 75,000 square feet pay a living wage, provide adequate health benefits and engage in first source hiring agreements was introduced in the City Council with over 7 co-sponsors, however the bill was pocket vetoed by the Chair of the committee and never saw the light of day. Will you as Council Chair pledge to give every bill introduced in the Council an up or down vote by adopting Council rules to prevent a committee Chair from pocket vetoing a bill?
Council rules currently allow “The Council, by a vote of 2/3rds of the members present and voting, may discharge a committee from further consideration of a measure that has been assigned to the committee. Upon approval of the discharge motion, the Council shall consider the bill or resolution as if it had been reported from the committee without amendment or modification or reassign the measure to another committee.” The House of Representatives allows a bill to be “discharged” from Committee when a majority of the House signs a discharge petition. Instituting similar rules for the Council is something I will carefully consider as Council Chair.
20. The D.C. City Council has passed many laws that mandate local hiring and training, however D.C. residents are still underemployed in the construction and retail industry. One of the reasons for this situation is the lack of enforcement on the part of the Executive branch. If elected Chair of the Council, will you pledge to challenge the Mayor to respect the Council has an institution and enforce the laws passed by the Council, even if it means taking the Mayor to court?
I created the Compliance Unit within the DC Auditor’s office to ensure that promises made by developers concerning hiring, job training, environmental benefits, neighborhood amenities, and affordable housing as a part of development projects on District land or with District financing are kept by developers. As Council Chair I will strengthen and enhance the powers and staffing of this new unit.
21. Less than 1/3 of District of Columbia's unemployed actually receive unemployment compensation (UI) benefits. Part of this is due to an extremely short time (10 day) period to appeal benefit denials. The 10 days starts when the denial is made, not when notice is received by the applicant. Will you support extending the current 10 day period for appeal to 15 days as in Maryland?
22. Unlike the private sector, D.C. worker's compensation appeals process for public employees, does not provide for the collection of attorney’s fees. Many D.C. workers cannot find lawyers willing to take their cases because they can not get attorney fees. Will you support legislation that would bring public employee attorney's fee collection in line with the private sector?
23. Wal-Mart has a long history of paying poverty-level wages, not providing adequate health coverage to its employees, driving out small and medium-sized businesses, costing local taxpayers millions of dollars due to their sweetheart tax deals, creating environmental and traffic problems, driving down wages in the communities in which it locates, caring little for the safety of its workers, discriminating against women, breaking child labor laws, and buying most of its merchandise from China where workers are treated poorly. There is clear evidence that Wal-Mart does more harm than good in the communities in which it locates. Will you oppose Wal-Mart’s attempts to open stores in the District of Columbia?
24. The District of Columbia has a long established practice of having a local minimum wage standard $1.00 above the federal minimum wage. Retail employers that have gross revenues of greater than $27 million can afford to pay their workers living wages of $11.50 an hour, which will help to support sustainable careers in the retail industry and to build a retail workforce in the District that can afford to buy the products it works hard to sell. Will you work to ensure that hard working District residents receive the good wages they deserve and support a bill establishing a minimum wage standard that would require large retail employers with revenues greater than $27 million to pay a living wage $11.50 an hour?
Other (please specify) - While I am a strong supporter of increasing the minimum wage for the District’s working families, it is difficult in this economic climate to institute a higher wage threshold for larger businesses and still attract them to open new stores/businesses in the District’s underserved neighborhoods. As Council Chair, I will work with the labor movement to increase wages for the District’s working families (for example, by expanding the District’s Earned Income Tax Credit) while not negatively impacting the District’s ability to attract new stores and businesses into our neighborhoods.
25. Will you support a “Worker's Freedom Act” that would prohibit employers from compelling workers to attend mandatory meetings to listen to their employers’ religious and political beliefs, including the employer’s beliefs about joining a union?
26. Bill 18-0650 "DC Resident Employment and Trade Stimulus Amendment Act" which is before the D.C. Council would require 1st source hiring, certified training, Project Labor Agreements (PLA's) and Labor Peace on any public assisted development project of $200,000 or more. Will you support and work for the passage of this investment protection, D.C. jobs bill before City Council takes its 2010 summer break?
I support the concept of the legislation but the issue needs further study.
27. Once a contract agreement has been reached between a public employee's union and the city, do you commit to fully funding those contracts?
28. The Congress has passed Health Care Reform however many people may still be without coverage. Do you favor a city-guaranteed universal health care initiative for the District of Columbia?
Yes, but in this difficult fiscal climate it would be hard for the District to afford further expansion of its health care insurance delivery mechanisms. The DC Health Alliance has helped the District have one of the lowest uninsured rates among all the states in the country. When the Health Care Reform law fully kicks in DC should be at nearly 100% insurance coverage.
29. There are companies with bad labor relations records but still get D.C. government contracts. Will you support policies denying these companies government contracts or any government assistance?
30. Will you support continuing measures to make sure that the school modernization program will be adequately funded and given opportunities to be built using union labor?
31. In 2007 the D.C. City Council approved Public Education Reform giving the Mayor authority over the schools. The law also re-created the elected school board into the state board of education. The members of the state board are elected but with no authority over traditional state school functions such as teacher certification, school closing, the master education plan, charter schools or even the simplest function of setting agenda items for meetings of the state board of education. If elected Chairman of the D.C. City Council will you establish a blue ribbon committee of public education professionals to make recommendations to make changes in the law to bring it in line with other state boards of education?
While I support taking a much closer look at the current scope of the State Board of Education I am not sure that a blue ribbon committee is the best avenue for such an investigation. There already is an evaluation process on-going that is required by law. We should wait until we receive the preliminary findings of this on-going review before instituting any additional examinations of the Board.
32. D.C. Charter Schools have one-third of D.C. public school students but have over 50% of the money regular public schools have to operate. Individual Charter School Boards have control of the money with oversight from a federal charter school board. Some years ago the city gave up local control by abolishing the D.C. Charter School Board. Will you support re-establishing a local charter school board appointed by the Mayor, City Council and State Board of Education with oversight authority and the ability to audit all D.C. Charter Schools annually?
33. Rent Control is one of the oldest laws on the books in the District of Columbia but has to be reauthorized every 5 years. Will you support making rent control permanent in the District of Columbia?
34. Affordable housing in the District of Columbia for the "working middle class" (hospitality industry workers, office building and parking attendant workers, lower wage construction workers is becoming harder and harder to find. Will you support legislation that would create workforce housing for these workers?
35. Several years ago the D.C. City Council passed tax reform legislation that lowered the tax rate for the highest income residents in the city. With massive budget deficits which have resulted in major cuts to programs that serve working families, will you support restoring the old tax rate for the highest income residents of D.C.?
No -- not until other options are explored.
36. Transit is a vital part of moving workers around the District. WMATA has provided bus and rail transportation for the District of Columbia since the 1970s. Its routes cross the city and its workers are paid family sustaining wages and benefits. Which of the following do you favor?
Doing what is necessary to improve the Metro System
37. An efficient, effective and safe mass transit system is essential for economic growth in the Metropolitan Washington area. The growing cost of such a system cannot be born by riding public transit alone. The Federal government and local businesses are beneficiaries of a public mass transit system. Will you support efforts to require the Federal government to provide a dedicated source of funding to operate Metro, providing that such dedicated funding will not be an excuse to modifying the labor protection features of the WMATA contract?
38. MPD's participation in the Secure Communities program reverses DC's long-standing policy prohibiting collaboration with the federal immigration authorities. The program operates pre-conviction by forwarding to ICE fingerprints of individuals arrested in the District regardless of whether charges are dropped, the arrest is deemed unlawful, or the person is innocent. Collaboration with ICE erodes public trust, hurts community policing, and leaves the door open for racial profiling and police abuse. Workers must trust in their government and live free from fear in order to organize and assert their rights. If the Mayor and Chief Lanier move forward with the Secure Communities program, will you support legislation prohibiting the implementation of the Secure Communities program in the Distrct of Columbia?
39. For the measures above that you have agreed to support, would you be willing to:
Introduce legislation
Work with labor and our allies to pass legislation
Speak at public events in support of legislation
40. In order to help strengthen working people’s interests, would you be willing to:
Urge employers to respect their employee's right to form a union by remaining neutral during a union organizing campaign
Urge employers to recognize a union voluntarily when the majority of their employees choose to form one?
Write a letter to urge an employer to re-hire a worker fired because he supported the union during an organizing drive?
Urge the public to utilize union produced products (like AT&T Wireless)?
Walk a picket line in support of a labor union?