Founded in 2000, DRUM focuses on winning economic and educational justice, and civil and immigrants rights.
Anshu Khadka, a workers and community organizer for the Jackson Heights-based group, joined as a member in 2015 after working low-wage restaurant jobs. An undocumented immigrant from Nepal, Khadka was also going to school at the time, so she had to pay for rent, tuition and transportation.
“It was horrible, but it was also trying to figure out what you do with $25 a day,” she said.
After joining DRUM, Khadka began understanding her rights, which led her to file a back-wage claim against her former employers. Despite backlash and a six-month legal battle, she won her case.
As an organizer, Khadka spoke to workers to learn what conditions were like all over the area. She learned that, on average, workers were making around $3 an hour.
“Employers use being undocumented as a threat,” she said. “It’s sometimes an unspoken threat, and sometimes a spoken threat.”
It’s with these experiences that DRUM joined the anti-Amazon fight.
“We as workers, on all the fronts, need to fight for what is rightfully ours,” Khadka said. “We have to organize. We have the right to unionize.”
DRUM also hosts programs on gender justice and racial education, including a youth program. Currently, the organization is focusing on creating what they call a “hate-free zone.”
Khadka describes it as a “community system where we don’t have to rely on law enforcement or the state.”
“So our people are able to support each other and build that system,” she said.