Non-profit

Workers Defense Project

Location:

AUSTIN, TX

Tax ID:

35-2296166

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $1,977,528
Expenses: $1,913,683
Assets: $2,219,060

Type:

Advocacy Group

Formation:

August 2002

President:

Valerie Benavidez

Executive Director:

Jose Garza

Not to be confused with Workers Defense League, a New York-based labor activist group with ties to the American socialist movement.

The Workers Defense Project is a left-of-center advocacy group that aids and provides representation for workers in the Texas construction industry, including illegal immigrants. It works alongside several prominent labor unions, with leaders from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and AFL-CIO represented in its Leadership Council. [1] Its lobbying arm is the Workers Defense Action Fund, which helps it to advocate for left-wing labor-union-aligned economic policies and against enforcing existing immigration laws. [2]

History

The Workers Defense Project was organized in August of 2002 by volunteers from a local Austin shelter, Casa Marianella.

For much of its early life, it was a mostly volunteer organization and remained small. It only began to increase in size and repute in 2006, when Cristina Tzintzun—who served as its first Executive Director—and Emily Timm officially co-founded the nonprofit, assuming leadership positions. At the time, they were both young: Tzintzun was a senior at the University of Texas, while Timm had just graduated from Brown University. [3]

The same year Tzintzun became Executive Director, the Workers Defense Project lead two major illegal immigrant protests in Austin. [4] According to the New York Times, which called Workers Defense Project “a union in spirit,” “The group limped along with insecure financing until 2009.” [5]

In August of 2016, Tzintzun stepped down and was replaced by the current president, Valerie Benavidez.

Present Activities

The Workers Defense Project operates in all the major Texas cities, including Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. In each of its cities, its city-wide organizations hold regular weekly meetings that revolve around organizing education and planning future demonstrations. [6] It also conducts research on worker safety and payment agreements, often interfering directly in workplaces on behalf of its member workers.

Workers Defense Project signed a letter condemning the immigration policy of the Trump Administration and urging American CEOs not to employ anyone involved with the policy. [7]

In preparation for the Trump Administration’s planned June Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency raids, volunteers with the Workers Defense Project handed out “know-your-rights” leaflets to illegal immigrants in Texas cities. [8]

Leadership

Valerie Benavidez is the current president of the Workers Defense Project.

Jose Garza, the executive director as of 2019, is its only paid officer. In June of 2019, Garza announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Travis County District Attorney. In his announcement, he declared his intent to abolish cash bail and protect illegal immigrants. [9]

Finances

Tax filings from 2017 show total revenues of $3,365,086 and total expenses of $2,421,364.

Major funders from the past include groups like the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and The Schwab Charitable Fund. [10]

References

  1. “Who We Are.” Workers Defense Project. Accessed July 09, 2019. http://www.workersdefense.org/who-we-are-2/. ^
  2. “Immigration.” Workers Defense Project. Accessed July 09, 2019. http://www.workersdefense.org/programs-2/rap/immigration-2/. ^
  3. Greenhouse, Steven. “The Workers Defense Project, a Union in Spirit.” The New York Times. August 10, 2013. Accessed July 09, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/business/the-workers-defense-project-a-union-in-spirit.html. ^
  4. Tuma, Mary. “Jolt Aims to Energize the Latino Vote.” Local Activist Nonprofit Engages a Growing Demographic – News – The Austin Chronicle. September 1, 2017. Accessed July 09, 2019. https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2017-09-01/jolt-aims-to-energize-the-latino-vote/. ; Bayard, Clare. “Immigrant Justice Rising: A Chronology of Immigrant-Led Mobilizations, Spring 2006: Left Turn – Notes from the Global Intifada.”. Accessed July 09, 2019. https://www.leftturn.org/immigrant-justice-rising-chronology-immigrant-led-mobilizations-spring-2006. ^
  5. Greenhouse, Steven. “The Workers Defense Project, a Union in Spirit.” The New York Times. August 10, 2013. Accessed July 09, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/business/the-workers-defense-project-a-union-in-spirit.html. ^
  6. Greenhouse, Steven. “The Workers Defense Project, a Union in Spirit.” The New York Times. August 10, 2013. Accessed July 09, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/business/the-workers-defense-project-a-union-in-spirit.html. ; ” “Impact.” Workers Defense Project. Accessed July 09, 2019. http://www.workersdefense.org/impact-2/.Help WDP Fight for Workers.” Workers Defense Project. Accessed July 09, 2019. http://www.workersdefense.org/take-action/. ^
  7. “An Open Letter to America’s CEOs.” Restore Public Trust. April 6, 2019. https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/04/Restore-Public-Trust-Open-Letter-Asylum-04.2019.pdf ^
  8. Garnham, Juan Pablo. “”We Need to Be Prepared”: The Tough Conversations Immigrant Families Are Having as Deportation Fears Consume Houston Communities.” The Texas Tribune. June 24, 2019. Accessed July 09, 2019. https://www.texastribune.org/2019/06/23/immigrant-families-brace-ice-raids-we-need-be-prepared/. ^
  9. King, Michael. “Workers Defense Project Director Opens District Attorney Campaign.” José Garza to Challenge Margaret Moore – News – The Austin Chronicle. June 5, 2019. Accessed July 09, 2019. https://www.austinchronicle.com/daily/news/2019-06-05/workers-defense-project-director-opens-district-attorney-campaign/. ^
  10. Greenhouse, Steven. “The Workers Defense Project, a Union in Spirit.” The New York Times. August 10, 2013. Accessed July 09, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/business/the-workers-defense-project-a-union-in-spirit.html. ; ” “Impact.” Workers Defense Project. Accessed July 09, 2019. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 2008

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Dec Form 990 $1,977,528 $1,913,683 $2,219,060 $364,440 N $1,954,511 $11,934 $11,083 $85,951
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,738,151 $1,692,225 $2,130,908 $360,210 N $1,647,859 $78,190 $12,102 $68,862 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,958,255 $1,592,648 $1,490,210 $77,029 N $1,882,813 $36,322 $12,620 $61,132 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $1,098,732 $958,262 $1,110,384 $62,810 N $1,034,025 $20,358 $1,728 $47,361 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $1,065,817 $869,025 $1,051,673 $144,569 N $1,022,303 $7,425 $983 $41,750 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $796,884 $463,006 $940,266 $229,954 N $753,030 $1,200 $636 $36,336 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Workers Defense Project

    5604 MANOR RD
    AUSTIN, TX 78723-4731