MacKenzie Baris Interview

The Washington Peace Center recently conducted a series of interviews with local activists and organizers seeking their views & opinions on the recently released DC Principles, along with how national movements interact with local organizations/issues.

MacKenzie Baris

“It’s about trying to build long term relationships between people so that they understand each other’s issues across organizations and across parts of the city…” – MacKenzie Baris

MacKenzie Baris is the lead organizer and director of DC Jobs with Justice, a position she’s held for almost nine years. She took her first steps towards organizing in high school, working around environmental justice. She then became involved in various labor actions in college, after which she began working on community organizing.

Washington Peace Center: Could you introduce yourself and tell me very broadly how you got to where you are right now?

MacKenzie Baris: My name is MacKenzie Baris, and right now I’m the lead organizer and director of DC Jobs with Justice. I started doing environmental justice stuff when I was in high school—I was trying to organize kids at my high school around doing educational stuff and making smart choices about what we bought and doing river clean ups and tree plantings. When I went to college I got involved in labor work because I’m from a union family. I got involved in different labor things that were happening in the town my college was in—things like walking picket lines and trying to be helpful, trying to get our school paper to actually cover this stuff.

Then I got involved with community organizing. I had been teaching at a school, helping with a mentoring program as my job, and I got involved in community organizing in the neighborhood where I was working. I ended up living there for a couple of years working out of a Catholic worker house and organizing with churches in the neighborhood around vacant properties and creating affordable housing. I eventually found my way to Jobs with Justice when I got involved with trying to organize my workplace at George Washington University.

Washington Peace Center: Can you tell me a little bit about Jobs for Justice? What it’s about and what it does?  Continue reading “MacKenzie Baris Interview”


Part-time faculty vote approves union at Duquesne – State:

Part-time faculty vote approves union at Duquesne – State:.

Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2012 2:28 pm | Updated: 3:01 pm, Fri Sep 21, 2012.

Ballots counted at the National Labor Relations Board office in Pittsburgh show part-time faculty have approved forming a bargaining unit at Duquesne University.

The vote by adjunct professors was held by mail and ended in July. But the ballots were impounded while the private, Catholic school appealed, claiming it should be given a religious exemption from an earlier agreement with the United Steelworkers union to allow the election.

The NLRB rejected that appeal last week the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ( reports that a preliminary ballot count was 50-9 in favor of the union. Eighty-eight part-time professors were eligible to vote.


Duquesne officials have said they’d appeal if the adjuncts vote to unionize.

A hidden cause of high veteran unemployment: the federal hiring freeze

A hidden cause of high veteran unemployment: the federal hiring freeze

Posted at: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 06:53:47 AM
Author: Clayton Sinyai

The latest BLS unemployment figures indicate that nearly 10% of post-9/11 veterans 25 and over are unemployed, compared to 7.6% of civilians in that age group. In researching an America story on this phenomenon, The Next Battle, one thing that struck me was the extent to which employment prospects for our veterans are intertwined with the future of the federal government workforce. Continue reading “A hidden cause of high veteran unemployment: the federal hiring freeze”

The Next Battle

The Next Battle

Veterans are fighting for jobs on the homefront.
Clayton Sinyai | AUGUST 27, 2012

the cover of America, the Catholic magazine

After 24 years in the military, including three tours in Iraq and service as a scout sniper in Afghanistan, Joe Tretta was ready for a change. “I wasn’t young anymore,” he said. “It was no fun sleeping on the ground.” Mr. Tretta had also spent six months in a hospital recovering from injuries to his leg, head and shoulder after a roadside bomb exploded. He retired from the military in February 2010, but he still wanted to work. His Veterans Affairs representative directed him to Helmets to Hardhats, a national employment and training service that connects veterans with opportunities in the construction industry.

Mr. Tretta, who now lives in Bel Air, Md., filed an application online and waited. Given the massive downturn in the construction industry, openings were few and far between. But a year later he got a call from the carpenters’ union apprenticeship program in Baltimore and jumped at the opportunity. His is a success story, but one to which fewer and fewer returning veterans can relate.

With a decade of military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, the armed forces anticipate a major reduction in personnel. The number of active duty soldiers in the U.S. Army is to be cut by nearly 60,000; tens of thousands of marines, sailors and air force members will join them. This newest generation of veterans will soon re-enter a struggling civilian economy that is not generating sufficient employment for job seekers.

They will face daunting challenges in the labor market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, just over 8 percent of adults were unemployed in 2011. But among the 1.9 million who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001, that number rises to 12.1 percent. For the youngest veterans, between the ages of 18 and 24, the unemployment rate is 29.1 percent. Continue reading “The Next Battle”