Friday, June 3, 2011

Learning to Fight Back

As a member of 9to5 Atlanta I have learned a variety of skills including how to organize, research, and fight for my rights and also how to engage in advocacy lobbying. When my landlord refused to respond to my request to bring the housing I was staying in up to code I was forced to use the skills and knowledge I acquired from attending 9to5 trainings and workshops.

Citizens of every community have the right to fair, safe and sanitary housing. Some owners of rental properties in low-income neighborhoods are providing sub-standard housing conditions and neglecting sometimes numerous housing code violations. It seems they think that a tenant will not complain or exercise their legal rights due to his or her current financial situation.

My personal experience was a housing code violation of standing sewage on the outside of the property. The owner continues to ignore the problem. I decided to take action and organize. I contacted the neighborhood association, city code enforcement, the county health department and eventually the city council.

Pending multiple violations and legal notices, the owner fixed the problem and we settled the issue out of court.  A retaliatory eviction is when an owner evicts a tenant who has exercised his or her legal rights; this is an unlawful eviction.  Many tenants feel as though they have to subject themselves to these unsafe conditions for fear of reprisal. There are powerful resources to help those whose rights have been violated. Landlord tenant laws protect both parties.  I will continue to use the knowledge and trainings I gained from 9to5 to fight for my rights.

-Rochelle Payton, 9to5 Atlanta member

9to5 Atlanta Forms Flexible Sick Days Committee

The 9to5 Flexible Sick Days Committee will focus its efforts on passing Georgia House Bill 432, the Georgia Flexible Sick Days Act. This bill will allow workers to use existing employer-provided sick days for the illness of immediate family members as well as their own.

The committee, made up of 9to5 members, decided that they will focus on reaching out to small-business owners, both finding business owners who already have flexible sick day policies in place and educating those that don’t about the positive effects of flexible policies like that outlined in HB 432.

Nationwide, only 30 percent of workers with paid sick days can use that time to care for sick children.  For those workers who can’t use sick days to care for family members, a sick child creates a crisis, often forcing a parent to send their child to school while ill or lie to their employer about why they need time off.  Sending children to school even when they’re ill also negatively impacts public health, and often increases the amount of time it takes a sick child to recover.

The next meeting of the Flexible Sick Days Committee will be Tuesday, June 6.  If you are interested in becoming a member of the committee, please contact Charmaine Davis at or 404-222-0037.

Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Journal Constitution