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The Washington Peace Center is an anti-racist, grassroots, multi-issue organization working for peace, justice, and non-violent social change in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area since 1963.

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Volunteers Marching during Iraq Anniversary 2011
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Occupy Our Homes at the Dawn Butler Eviction in DC
Image by DC 51 Collective

DC Just Passed Great Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Days Bills. What's in them?

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Congratulations to all DC workers and to the advocates who helped push the DC Council to pass unanimously the Fair Minimum Wage Act and Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act of 2013 today without allowing the bills to be weakened by amendments.

Although news reports have shared some of the highlights of the worker protection bills just passed by the DC Council, here are some of the details, which weren’t always covered.

Minimum Wage Amendment Act of 2013 (click here for bill text)

The bill increases the minimum wage, which is currently $8.25, to $11.50 in three steps:

    $9.50 on July 1, 2014

Don’t Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He’s Honored Now, But Was Hated Then

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If we turn the late South African leader into a nonthreatening moral icon, we’ll forget a key lesson from his life: America isn’t always a force for freedom.

Now that he’s dead, and can cause no more trouble, Nelson Mandela is being mourned across the ideological spectrum as a saint. But not long ago, in Washington’s highest circles, he was considered an enemy of the United States. Unless we remember why, we won’t truly honor his legacy.

Supporters challenge Kim Rivera's separation from newborn in Fort Carson protest Sunday

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A handful of peace activists gathered outside of Fort Carson on Sunday to protest the military's continued detention of a self-proclaimed conscientious objector who recently gave birth.

At the heart of their concerns: Army Pfc. Kimberly Rivera's newborn son, Matthew, is not receiving breast milk because Rivera is not allowed to keep him with her at Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in San Diego, where she's being held, according to her civilian lawyer, James Branum.

Rivera is being allowed to express milk via a hand pump for medical reasons but is not allowed to save and refrigerate the milk for her son, Branum said Sunday via phone.

Activists launch ballot initiative to raise DC minimum wage

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Activists and labor organizers launched an initiative Tuesday to get a referendum on the ballot in 2014 to raise the minimum wage in the nation’s capital to $12.50 an hour, and the hourly rate for tipped workers to $8.75, by 2017.

A coalition of labor groups, economic justice organizations and faith leaders support the proposal — spearheaded by an organization called Working Families, which was formed earlier this month specifically to advocate for the cause. The group was filing a petition with the Board of Elections on Tuesday and must collect 23,000 signatures — 5 percent of Washington, D.C. voters — before the measure can be put on the ballot next November.

Ohio Walmart Holds Food Drive For Its Own Employees

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Activists have long criticized Walmart for failing to pay its employees living wages, and instead relying on the state to step in and pay for the healthcare and food of workers. In Canton, Ohio, another Walmart recently demonstrated this kind of corporate welfare by holding a food drive—for its own employees.

“Please donate food items so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner,” reads a sign accompanied by several plastic bins.

Understandably, the food drive has sparked outrage in the area.

“That Walmart would have the audacity to ask low-wage workers to donate food to other low-wage workers—to me, it is a moral outrage,” Norma Mills, a customer at the store, told the Plain Dealer.

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