Public Interest Award

Every year, Outten & Golden recognizes and supports the work of at least two non-profit organizations that help advance the rights and interests of workers by presenting the O&G Public Interest Award. The award is presented to the honoree organizations at ceremonies attended by up to 200 people, including members, supporters, and leaders of the organizations.  The award consists of $20,000, with $10,000 given at the ceremony plus $2,500 each year for the next four years.

Honorees

The Public Justice Center (PJC) was honored in May 2018. The PJC pursues systematic change to build a just society.  Founded in Maryland in 1985, the PJC uses legal advocacy tools to pursue social justice, economic and race equity, and fundamental human rights for people who are struggling to provide for their basic needs. The PJC is a civil legal aid office that provides advice and representation to low-income clients, advocates before legislatures and government agencies, and collaborates with community and advocacy organizations. The PJC’s Workplace Justice Project works primarily with low-wage workers to enforce and expand their right to an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work using a variety of strategies including: legislative, regulatory and other policy advocacy, litigation, and coalition development. Using a strategic approach to combat identified systemic problems that negatively affect the lives of low-wage workers, the PJC has achieved significant results in a variety of sectors and industries. 

Damayan Migrant Workers Association (Damayan) was honored in March 2018. Damayan is a New York-based nonprofit that empowers Filipino domestic workers and other marginalized low-wage workers to fight for their labor, health, gender, and immigrant rights. Established in 2002, Damayan’s mission is to build a solid membership base and develop workers' leadership from the grassroots, to combat labor trafficking, to fight labor fraud and wage theft, and to demand fair labor standards to achieve economic and social justice for all. Damayan is a pioneer and leader in the anti-labor trafficking and domestic workers movement. Through their anti-labor trafficking campaign BAKLAS, meaning “break free” in Filipino, Damayan has proven that trafficking survivors can win against powerful employers, reunify their families, and become social justice leaders. Damayan co-anchors Beyond Survival, the anti-trafficking campaign of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. In 2017, Damayan’s work led to the anti-trafficking Memorandum of Understanding between Damayan and the Philippine Consulate.

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) New York is the New York State affiliate of the country’s largest Muslim civil rights group, was honored in 2017. CAIR New York fights for the civil rights of Muslim New Yorkers in every area of life, including in employment discrimination, national security harassment, and hate crimes.

Centro Legal de La Raza, honored in 2017, is a comprehensive legal services agency protecting and advancing the rights of immigrant, low-income, and Latino communities through bilingual legal representation, education, and advocacy. Centro Legal promotes access to justice for thousands of individuals and families each year throughout Northern and Central California.

New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC) is an undocumented-youth-led organization in New York, and was honored in 2017. It works to empower immigrant youth through leadership development, grassroots organizing, educational advancement, and self-expression. NYSYLC has long advocated with undocumented immigrant youth and is committed to protecting their rights and fighting back.

Youth Represent, honored in 2017, helps justice-involved young people who face unfair discrimination as they pursue jobs, education housing, and stable family lives. When our justice system creates barriers to success for young people, Youth Represent uses the law to help them leave the stigma of a criminal record behind.

New York Communities for Change (“NYCC”) Worker’s Rights program was honored in the Spring of 2016 for its grassroots advocacy for workers in New York and beyond. Founded in 2010, NYCC has campaigned for supermarket workers, carwasheros, bank workers, and day care providers. In 2012, NYCC helped launch the Fight for $15 movement, which spawned minimum wage increases across the country, including an historic wage increase for fast food workers in New York. NYCC is committed to continue fighting for the rights of all workers to earn living wages.

Adhikaar for Human Rights & Social Justice was honored in May 2015 for its work with South Asian immigrants (one of New York City’s fastest-growing communities).  Adhikaar has the distinction of being a women-led workers’ center, which has assisted thousands of individuals and families from Nepal, India, Tibet, and Bhutan, and which has worked in coalitions that have successfully created new laws at local, state, national, and international levels, including the successful passage of the New York State Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights and the International Domestic Workers’ Convention.  Outten & Golden looks forward to partnering with Adhikaar throughout 2015, and beyond!

Brandworkers was honored in the Spring of 2014 for its commitment to organizing New York City retail and food industry workers to challenge unlawful and abusive employment practices.  In the less than six-years since its founding, Brandworkers has achieved many notable victories.  For example, in 2012 Brandworkers settled with a maker of hummus and other kosher products for $500,000 and the employer’s commitment to a code of conduct that will dramatically improve working conditions.  Brandworkers also has engaged in a campaign against a large industrial bakery, seeking a living wage, affordable health care, and health and safety improvements for its workers.

New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), founded in 1999, was honored in 2013. NICE is a community-based, non-profit organization that works to ensure that new immigrants can build social, political and economic power in their communities and beyond. (Online magazine Queens Latino published this article. You can read a partial English translation here.)

Make the Road New York, founded in 2007 through the merger of Make the Road by Walking and the Latin American Integration Center, two of New York City’s most innovative and effective grassroots organizations, was honored in 2012.

Domestic Workers United (DWU), honored in 2011, was founded in 2000, by Caribbean, Latina and African nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers in New York.  DWU is the organization responsible for lobbying and advocating for the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

A Better Balance (ABB), honored in 2010, is an organization founded in 2005 and dedicated to promoting the employment rights of working parents and care givers.  A Better Balance is dedicated to promoting equality in the workplace and expanding choices for men and women, regardless of income level, so they may care for their families without sacrificing their economic security.