TWU conducts public policy and issue campaigns, low-wage worker and community organizing, education and leadership development, and non-partisan electoral organizing, all of which are geared to our overall mission of building regional power in Northern Virginia, and a broad, political-economic justice movement centered in the leadership of working-class women and communities of color.
Youth Organizing and Education Justice
Alexandria United Teens (AUT), TWU’s youth group, continues organizing their peers and community for education justice, focusing on decreasing out-of-school suspensions, which disproportionately impact students of color. Across the nation, students of color are suspended at higher rates than their white peers, and for minor, nonviolent offenses. After years of hard, persuasive campaign work, AUT won the implementation of Restorative Practices (RP) in Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS). RP is a program that provides structured communication as an alternative to suspension. Since 2015, out-of-school suspensions in ACPS have dropped 59%. RP is working! It’s keeping students in school, where they belong. AUT is pushing to improve and expand RP. They are currently collaborating with ACPS to implement a youth-led evaluation survey for high school students, and the results will help them assess RP’s quality and make necessary adjustments to our campaign demands.
A core pillar of our work is ensuring youth have a solid foundation of academic and personal success for a prosperous future. Each year, we serve over 150 young people between the ages of 12-18. Our weekly Homework Help in Arlandria allows youth to form supportive relationships with peers and a mentor who helps them to stay on track. At our Summer Youth Institute, participants engage in community and self-esteem building activities as they learn about local and state power structures and the importance of making a positive impact for the greater good. Our College Prep Workshops provide much-needed support to first generation college goers as they navigate the intricate process of applying and figuring out how to pay for school. Together, we are building each other up to create stronger communities.
ICE Out of Alexandria - The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office has an intergovernmental contract that includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This local collaboration with ICE is entirely voluntary, and it results in the deportation of our community members and the separation of families in Northern Virginia. We know that the criminal justice system disproportionately and unfairly impacts people of color, and this local collaboration with ICE creates an unjust, inhumane deportation pipeline right here in Alexandria. TWU’s members have been organizing to demand that the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office remove ICE from its contract. Our work has resulted in decreased collaboration with ICE; however, the contract continues and ICE still has easy access to people who are caught up in the criminal justice system. We continue to call for a total end to the jail’s collaboration with ICE, and we ask Alexandria City Council to pass a Resolution that publicly opposes voluntary collaboration with ICE’s deportation force.
ICE Out of Prince William County - TWU has been organizing and pushing for an end to the 287(g) program at the Prince William - Manassas Adult Detention Center. 287(g) is a voluntary program that deputizes corrections officers to act as ICE agents inside the jail. It unfairly targets and discriminates against the immigrant community, resulting in deportation and family separation. We are also working to change Police General Order 45 to eliminate questioning about immigration status and voluntary communication with ICE.
Driver’s Licenses For All - For over 6 years, TWU members across Northern Virginia have demanded that Virginia pass Driver’s Licenses for All, which would expand access to driver’s licenses to all Virginians, regardless of immigration status. Every Virginian deserves the opportunity to apply for a driver’s license to have access to emergency health services, economic and educational opportunities, and recreation activities. In March of 2020, a law was passed that will open access to driver privilege cards for undocumented folks. Driver privilege cards are different from driver’s licenses, and while this is a good first step, we’ll continue to organize communities around this issue in Alexandria City, south Arlington County, south Fairfax County, and Woodbridge in Prince William County.
The arrival of Amazon’s HQ2 is exacerbating the longstanding housing crisis we face in the D.C. metropolitan region, where rising rent prices have been steadily displacing low-income residents for decades. TWU members are fiercely organizing to prevent the displacement of our families, our community, and Arlandria’s cultural diversity. No one should be forced to leave the place they call home because they can’t afford to stay. TWU is conducting leadership development to prepare impacted community members to organize their neighbors & lead our campaign for affordable, community-controlled housing. We demand that our elected officials pass policies for us, not Amazon.
TWU has a long history of organizing for fairer working conditions and living wages for childcare providers, custodial staff, and taxi drivers. Most notably, we helped establish driver-led unions that increased organizing power. In 2018, taxi-driver’s succeeded in getting the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) to relocate the Uber/Lyft pick-up location at Reagan National Airport, resulting in better visibility and increased job opportunities for the highly regulated, career taxi drivers. Currently, with Reagan National Airport under construction, taxi drivers continue to meet regularly until they can assess necessary next steps.