San Jose approves a $15 minimum wage by 2019
November 16, 2016
On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council voted unanimously to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 by 2019, three years before the state of California reaches that standard. San Jose — the 10th largest city in the nation and the capital of Silicon Valley — now joins five other Santa Clara County cities in acting on an unprecedented regional approach to jointly raise the wage.
"Amidst the turmoil in Washington, Silicon Valley is leading the way with innovative policies that reduce inequality and support working families," said Derecka Mehrens, executive director of Working Partnerships USA, which co-leads the Silicon Valley Rising coalition. "This vote marks an important step in our regional approach to raise the floor and put money in the pockets of workers struggling to pay for rent and food."
In response to public pressure from Silicon Valley Rising, community allies and elected officials leading on the issue, thirteen cities in Santa Clara County endorsed a plan in June to enact $15 minimum wages by 2019, three years before the State of California reaches that level. This is the first region-wide approach to raising the minimum wage in the nation. Cupertino, Los Altos, and Palo Alto have since voted for $15 by 2019, and Mountain View and Sunnyvale will get there even sooner in 2018.
"If you work hard and play by the rules, you should earn enough to make ends meet," said Ben Field, executive officer of the South Bay Labor Council. "When one in three workers in Santa Clara County make too little to cover their basic needs, we can't get to $15 an hour fast enough."
As the largest city in Santa Clara County, San Jose's vote adds momentum to the regional plan. If adopted by every city in the County, this groundbreaking wage standard would give raises to 250,000 workers, putting $800 million more in their pockets each year and boosting the gross domestic product of the nine-county area by $314 million every year, according to a report by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley.
"I work two jobs, but with rent going up I can't make ends meet," said Yasmin Fernandez, a fast food and gas station worker who testified before the Council. "A $15 minimum wage will help me provide for my family."
The Council voted 10-0 to raise the minimum wage to $12 on July 1, 2017; $13.50 on January 1, 2018; and $15 on January 1, 2019. After that future wage increases will be indexed to the inflation rate. The ordinance excludes youth in job training programs that last for 120 days or less.
On the heels of votes in four states to raise their minimum wages (Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington), Silicon Valley's action to raise the wage shows that outside of Washington, DC, there is powerful momentum for policies that address both economic and racial inequality and strengthen workplace standards.
November 11, 2016
It's difficult to process what happened on Tuesday. Here in Silicon Valley, all the ballot measures we worked so hard for are on track to victory. With 64% of the votes counted, here's how things are looking:
Measure A: 67% Yes
Raises $950 million for affordable housing
Measure B: 71% Yes
Invests billions in our transportation system
Measure E: 63% Yes
Provides hourly employees with the opportunity to work
Measure F: 62% Yes
Reforms San Jose's pension system to protect public safety
Measure G: 65% Yes
Updates San Jose's business tax
At the state level, Props 55, 56, & 57 — which our California Calls coalition educated more than 600,000 voters on statewide — all received over 60% support.
Yet nationally, we just saw a stunning upset for a politics that channels anxiety and frustration into fear and hatred. The coming years are going to be rough. We need to prepare for uphill battles to preserve the rights of immigrants and people of color, protect labor standards, and defend hard-won progressive victories.
To do that, we need grassroots power. We need people committed to standing up against divisive rhetoric and dangerous proposals. We need the infrastructure of movement-building leaders and organizations to bring people together and develop smart policy. And we need to show the country a positive alternative to the darkness that shaped this election cycle.
That's why our victories here matter so much. They show a path forward — a way to speak boldly and honestly about racial and economic injustices, engage underrepresented voters and pass policies that will make a real difference in the lives of our communities. They show that we know what we have to do, and that we can do it.
We couldn't have won these measures without strong support from our partners and allies, a list far too long to thank here. As we move forward, we must continue to stand with each other, rising together for our communities.
Working Partnerships USA was founded on the belief that building power on the ground forms the foundation for national change. That's where the USA in our name comes from. In this time of turmoil, that vision is more important than ever.
Big win on career pathways
September 13, 2016
The Valley Transportation Authority Board just took a groundbreaking vote that will open up career opportunities on over $4 billion in construction projects for local community members who are struggling to find good, family-supporting jobs.
This victory has been nearly five years in the making. Working Partnerships is proud to have led this effort via our Construction Careers Initiative, a collaboration with the Santa Clara Building Trades Council, the South Bay Apprenticeship Coordinators Association, the South Bay Labor Council, affiliated construction unions and apprenticeship programs, and community partners. Through this initiative, the South Bay is building a pipeline into high-road construction jobs - one big step towards shrinking inequality and building an inclusive middle class.
VTA joins the County of Santa Clara in adopting a "Community Workforce" policy covering its billions of dollars in construction projects. The policy expands access to career pathways through creating apprenticeship jobs for local low-income residents.
The next step in making that commitment real is to expand the Community Workforce model, so that greater numbers of our local youth, veterans, women, low-wage workers and other under-represented residents have access to construction careers.
Historic win: Silicon Valley votes for a regional minimum wage of $15 by '19
June 14, 2016
Last week, 15 cities in the heart of Silicon Valley voted overwhelmingly in favor of making a $15 minimum wage the region-wide policy by 2019, setting a timeline three years faster than the one set by the state. Though cities and states have taken action to raise minimum wages, Silicon Valley is the first to take a regional approach to setting such a standard. If adopted by each city council, this groundbreaking wage standard would give raises to 250,000 workers and boost the gross domestic product of the regional economy by $314 million every year.
California passed a historic minimum wage increase to $15 by 2022, but for families in crisis in this high-cost region, we need to act sooner to raise wages, as well as increase hours for part-time workers and improve other job standards like paid leave. With one in three working households in Silicon Valley earning too little to cover even the most basic expenses, raising the minimum wage is a key component in moving working families into the middle class.
The Cities Association's resolution will now come for a vote at each City Council in the region.
Sunnyvale and Mountain View have passed ordinances for $15 minimum wages by 2018 and Palo Alto had already set a goal to achieve the same. Cupertino and Los Altos voted last month in support of a regional $15 minimum wage by 2019. And with 13 cities' representatives having voted for the resolution, the momentum is palpable. We'll be campaigning city by city to make $15 by 2019 the law of the land.
A Hidden Crisis: Underemployment in Silicon Valley
April 22, 2016
In one of the most prosperous regions in the country, far too many working people are barely scraping by. Just released, our new report, A Hidden Crisis: Underemployment in Silicon Valley's Hourly Workforce, reveals an explosion of part-time work that helps drive the poverty that has persisted despite the economic boom.
The report, coauthored with the Center for Popular Democracy and the Fair Workweek Initiative, shows that part-time work in San Jose has shot up from 26% to 43% of the hourly workforce - 64,000 working people - just in the last decade, bucking national trends. And these jobs leave workers struggling to make ends meet:
- 77% of these workers are paid less than $15 an hour.
- 58% of their households are rent-burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their total household income for rent.
- 45% lack access to job-based health insurance.
- 25% are on Medi-Cal and 11% are on food stamps.
This crisis of underemployment disproportionately affects women, who make up 63% of hourly part-time workers, and people of color, who comprise 69% of this workforce.
The Opportunity to Work Initiative, the first of its kind, would require large employers here in the nation's tenth largest city to offer additional work hours to current qualified workers before hiring new staff to fill the need.
With recent victories in the Fight for $15, the minimum wage is starting to catch up, but working people can't make it on $15 an hour if they aren't getting enough hours on the job. Policies regulating work schedules haven't kept up with the ways in which employers are restructuring employment and shrinking the work week. These trends exist in the broader context of corporations making work more and more insecure - not only through unstable schedules, but also through the use of subcontracting, temp work and Uberized "gigs," which are widespread in and catalyzed by the tech industry.
This speaks to the core reason that communities, workers and faith came together to create Silicon Valley Rising, which launched the Opportunity to Work Initiative. Silicon Valley Rising is about working people rising up - to inspire industry to build an inclusive middle class in this region, and to organize for change through public policy and through a voice at work. We must unite the fight for fair wages, the fight for fair hours and all fights for better jobs to make Silicon Valley a national model for how the new economy can generate shared prosperity.
New Report Finds Subcontracting Worsens Economic and Racial Disparities
March 30, 2016
A report released today by Working Partnerships USA and Silicon Valley Rising, and covered exclusively by The Washington Post, reveals that contract industry workers serving the tech industry receive much lower wages and are disproportionately Black and Latino compared to direct tech workers. This is significant, as the report notes, because in Silicon Valley, the number of jobs in potential contract industries has grown three times faster than overall Silicon Valley employment over the last two and half decades.
"We knew the tech industry was booming, but we weren't seeing that translate into an abundance of jobs for our communities - until we looked at the low-wage jobs in contracting industries. Those are growing fast, just like tech profits are. It's no wonder that one in three working households in Silicon Valley can't make ends meet when these growing industries pay wages that barely cover rent," said Derecka Mehrens, Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA.
The economic status of those indirectly employed by the tech industry is much worse than the directly employed tech workforce in both white- & blue-collar work. On average, direct tech employees earn $113,300, while white-collar and blue-collar workers in contract industries average $53,200 and $19,900, respectively, the report finds.
Moreover, as earnings go down, the proportion of the workforce that is comprised of Black and Latino workers goes up. On average, African American and Latino workers make up just 10% of the directly employed tech workforce, approximately 26% of white-collar subcontracted industry workers and 58% of the blue-collar workforce in subcontracted industries.
"This report shows that the rise in subcontracting has made the high tech sector a weak engine for middle class job creation," said Ben Field, Executive Officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council. "Additionally, it shows that the few good jobs tech does create go disproportionately to white men."
"Tech's Invisible Workforce" reveals that through the rise of subcontracting, Silicon Valley's tech industry is drastically increasing the region's levels of inequality and occupation segregation, especially among people of color. The full report is available online at http://www.siliconvalleyrising.org/TechsInvisibleWorkforce.pdf
Take Up Our Quarrel
By Bob Brownstein
Posted March 18, 2016
The South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council Committee on Political Education gave its Lifetime Achievement Award to Bob Brownstein, Working Partnerships USA's Director of Research and Policy. Here's an excerpt of the speech that Bob gave at the awards banquet, with a charge to the rest of us in the movement for justice.
In two months, I'll be 70 years old. I've been fighting for the rights and well-being of working people for longer than many of the people in this room have been alive.
I made my first speech in favor of health insurance for all Americans in June of 1964. The MediCare Act was signed a year later, but after that the next steps took decades. Finally, the Clinton Administration managed to provide health insurance for quite a few children. But in the year 2000, the Santa Clara County labor movement launched an effort to make us the first county in the country to provide coverage for ALL children. And we didn't stop there. With a little help from President Obama, we helped launch Covered California and expand MediCal. And now our Board of Supervisors has approved a new initiative to generate coverage for undocumented. We are finally virtually there - where every other modern country has been for years - health coverage for all.
What should we learn from this story? We're on a long road - a road with few short cuts and a lot of steep hills.
Well, when you're on a long road, it's critically important to keep your eyes on the prize so you don't make a wrong turn. What's the prize? There's a lot of pieces of it - wages, and health care and housing and retirement - there's the right to organize.
When you put them together - it's all about justice.
Unfortunately, we have to do more than simply walk that long road to justice....
History tells us that in 1776 the British had kicked the heck out of Washington's army and chased him all across New Jersey to the Delaware River.
But there were men and women who wouldn't yield. There was Thomas Paine. He wrote, "These are the times that try men's souls," and he wrote that 1776 was no time for the sunshine patriot.
Well, 2016 is no time for the sunshine activist.
We who are passing the torch know that.
So we who have fought many long battles that brought us as far as we've come tonight - we feel we've earned the right to make a request of those come after us.
We ask only one thing.
Take up our quarrel with the foe.Read more
A New Opportunity and a Planned Transition
Posted March 9, 2016
We're excited to announce that we are hiring a Director of Public Policy to join our executive team. We're looking for an experienced organizational leader to manage our public policy and advocacy campaigns and to drive our cutting-edge policy agenda to improve the lives of working people and people of color in Silicon Valley. The Director of Public Policy will work to further the momentum we've built launching Silicon Valley Rising, an innovative community-labor collaboration engaging the tech sector in policy and organizing solutions to income inequality and occupational segregation. Working with our incredible staff team and coalition partners, he/she will oversee our public policy agenda in the areas of economic justice, housing and transportation justice, health policy and community development, and budget and fiscal policy. Please help us spread the word!
A Planned Transition
After 17 years of service to our movement for a just Silicon Valley economy, Bob Brownstein is assuming a new role as Strategic Advisor where he will assist with organizational strategy and public policy development with Working Partnerships USA. This summer, Bob will move to part-time and partner closely with our board of directors and Executive Director on strategic plan implementation, health care and housing policy, and fiscal policy strategy. We are excited that he will continue as part of our core team as he moves toward retirement from full-time work.
We're planning a party, too - so click here and we'll make sure you get the invitation!
Thank you for your help spreading the word about this great opportunity to join our team!
Groundbreaking "Opportunity to Work Initiative" Filed
Posted January 25, 2016
Today, key Silicon Valley Rising members, along with community, religious and labor leaders, submitted a groundbreaking measure, the Opportunity to Work Initiative. The measure, proposed for the November 2016 ballot in San Jose, California, will help hourly workers get access to enough hours so their paychecks cover the bills and put food on the table. It will address the crisis of underemployment by requiring employers to offer qualified part- time employees the opportunity to work additional hours before hiring new part-time or temporary employees.
Sign on in support
The Opportunity to Work Initiative is the first measure of its kind in the country. Although San Francisco and SeaTac have adopted similar ordinances, no previous initiative has aimed to provide part-time employees across industries access to more work hours.
"Despite the fact that I work three part-time jobs, I struggle to make ends meet. Every week the number of hours I get changes, so I am never sure what my paycheck will be," said Sara Delete, a fast food employee. "Not having access to more work hours means that I am constantly worried about being able to provide for my son, cover my rent and pay the bills."
While the Silicon Valley economy is booming, working people and their families are caught in an ever-increasing struggle to make ends meet. San Jose and other Silicon Valley cities have set national examples by raising their minimum wages. But a higher wage is not enough to cover skyrocketing living costs if you can only get a few hours of work. By keeping workers part-time, big corporations in low-wage industries avoid providing critical benefits like health insurance and retirements plans. Women and people of color are disproportionately affected.
The Opportunity to Work ordinance will provide fair access to hours for working people stuck in part-time or hourly positions, freeing them to work more so they can earn enough to pay for the basic necessities.
Campaigns to provide opportunities to work have been won or are underway in cities and states across the country and major national chain stores and restaurants. Locally, the Silicon Valley Living Wage Coalition won an opportunity to work policy for employees and contractors at the County of Santa Clara. Now San Jose has a chance to seize the moment and become a national leader in this fight.
Join the campaign
Stronger Unions are the Way to Rebalance our Economy
Reposted December 11, 2015 from NewsWeek
By Dorian T. Warren - Working Partnerships USA Board Member, Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and Chair of the Board at the Center for Community Change.
Thousands of Americans who work in fast-food restaurants walked off their jobs for a day again earlier this month, once more disrupting breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours in neighborhoods around the country.
Their strikes have provoked a broad debate over minimum wage levels at local and national levels, which is long overdue.
But that's just part of what this movement is about. From the beginning, the fast-food cashiers and cooks who launched the "Fight for $15" declared that they have a vision for how they can turn their jobs into work that sustains their families and frees them from depending on public assistance: a union.
They are not alone in uniting behind this vision. In an era of increasingly precarious careers and deepening economic insecurity, wide-ranging groups of working people-from adjunct professors to child care workers to digital media journalists to auto parts workers-are joining together to start new unions so they can speak with a more powerful voice about their future.
In a larger sense, all of these people who are working together to restart the union movement are pointing out something that should be obvious by now: that a grand economic experiment that America's wealthy corporate elites launched a generation ago has been a destructive failure for wage-earning Americans.
About 40 years ago, corporations decided to break apart unions in the United States, focusing first on the unions organized by people working in private sector jobs.
The implicit promise about this experiment that was made to the rest of us was that by crushing unions, corporations would be free to be more efficient, more flexible and more profitable. This was supposed to generate more growth and make life better for all of us.
Of course, that's not what happened. In reality, suppressing unions made it much easier for corporations to push the economy way of out balance. With nobody sitting across from them at a bargaining table, it became all too easy for CEOs to simply take more and leave the rest of us with less.
The result has been that working Americans' share of our country's overall economic output-what the Federal Reserve calls the "Nonfarm Business Sector Labor Share"-has collapsed. For decades, wages for most people have stayed flat or fallen. For an ordinary American, the real purchasing power of the average wage is not any higher now than it was in 1973.
At the same time, real incomes for the CEO class have soared to the point that it sometimes seems that they have flown off in their Gulfstream jets to live on a different, better planet.
Economists and historians looking for reasons for why incomes in the United States have become more and more unequal now point towards the dismantling of unions as a key factor.
We need stronger unions again to raise wages and strengthen the purchasing power of typical families, because that consumer spending is what will sustain and fortify our recovery from the 2008 financial crisis and into the future.
We need stronger unions again because everyday American families need institutions that can at least partially offset the astonishing power that the wealthiest Americans have over our government and our elections.
Minimum wage increases are great, but they are not enough. Workers shouldn't have to rely on sporadic and incremental raises dependent on the goodwill of politicians. They need an ongoing vehicle for making sure their wages rise with profitability, productivity, and economic growth.
Nobody thinks that restoring a broad-based, powerful union movement is going to be easy. Corporations have been both relentless and successful in their effort to cripple unions.
More than 90 percent of Americans who are employed by a private company do not belong to a union. In some states, public employees have succeeded in preserving their organizations, but a network of billionaires are funding a pending Supreme Court case that will likely soon make it more difficult for teachers, firefighters and other public employees to maintain strong unions.
Still, there are important reasons to be optimistic when it comes to creating a new kind of movement of working Americans.
There are signs that growing numbers of Americans simply want stronger unions again. The most recent Gallup poll of the overall public found that support for unions spiked up to 58 percent this year, a jump of five percentage points over just one year.
And a closer look at polling trends shows even stronger support for unions among the workforce of the future. A Pew survey released earlier this year found that Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 view unions favorably at a significantly higher level than older workers.
For people who are paid less that $15 per hour, that support is even more intense. A National Employment Law Project survey released last month found that 72 percent of people who are paid at that level support unions. Among 18-29 year olds paid less than $15, support rises to 82 percent.
That shifting sentiment in favor of rebuilding a strong union movement will eventually shift our politics.
For now, nearly all elected Republicans are implacably opposed to any attempt to give Americans more freedom to form unions. But Democratic voters and elected officials are growing more willing to back 21 st century unions as an important method to restore wage growth and create more inclusive prosperity.
Larry Summers and Robert Rubin-both seen as business-oriented "centrists" within the Democratic Party-have recently spoken out boldly about the need to rebuild unions.
Right now, it's too difficult for working people to organize unions, so a shift in politics would certainly make it easier for people to start new unions on a large scale. The 1935 Wagner Act-the law that created a federal right to join a union - was severely weakened by conservative attacks in 1947 and 1959. Progressives in Congress attempted to bolster workers' freedom to form unions in 1977 and 2009, but they failed.
It's time to think about what the law should look like in the 21st century in a service-based, part-time economy.
The conventional wisdom today is that there is little hope for changing the rules for how people form unions because of polarization and gridlock. Many people assume it will stay this way and that it will take decades for a breakthrough to come.
But not long ago, most of us assumed it would take at least a generation for gay Americans to win the right to get married. Change can seem to take forever until it suddenly happens quickly.
It's also important to remember that working Americans succeeded in building unions well before the Wagner Act existed. Even in a fiercely hostile legal and political climate, men who operated locomotives, men who mined coal, women who sewed clothing and many other kinds of working people used tenacious, creative tactics to build unions and persuade corporations to sit down with them, even when they had no real legal right to do so.
Corporations don't have to wait for Congress and the President to let them change how they deal with their employees. A company like McDonald's-which today is struggling with a rapidly declining public reputation at least partly because it pays its employees so little-could decide tomorrow to reboot how consumers think about it by creating a new relationship with the people who serve its food. The company could find a way to support the creation of a McDonald's employee organization and include its cooks and cashiers in the process of making the McDonald's a leading edge business again.
This new kind of organization likely won't look like our grandfathers' unions. Today's economy calls for something different.
But we do need to figure out the organization that allows the more than 60 million people that make less than $15 an hour to be engaged in their economic and political lives. They need an organization that isn't just about raising the minimum wage-one that they can join if they want, that negotiates for wages and health insurance and sick days today and over the long run.
Right now, you've got millions living on the fringes, barely figuring out how to make it. We are supposed to live in a country where our kids do better. That's not the case. The fast-food strikes are just one sign that working Americans have been pushed to the limit and are eager to stick together to fight for economic stability.
For sustained prosperity and a more democratic way of life, there is no substitute for making sure that working Americans have the freedom to build their own strong organizations to join together for jobs that make thriving communities possible.
Victory: $287 billion plan will prioritize good jobs and renter protections
Posted November 20, 2015
Several billion dollars in transportation and land use planning funds flow to the San Francisco Bay Area each year. These funds and the agencies that oversee them have a profound impact on the shape and direction of our region's economic growth.
Yet until recently, virtually no attention has been paid to the type and quality of jobs being leveraged by those investments - with the result that development across the nine-county Bay Area often happens in ways that exacerbate existing disparities and widen the inequality gap.
In a groundbreaking policy shift, the Bay Area's regional planning and transportation agencies voted this week to adopt two new priorities: stemming the Bay Area's displacement crisis, and tackling inequality by growing good, middle-wage, career-path jobs.
The votes were the culmination of more than two years of advocacy by communities and workers across the 9-county Bay Area, spearheaded by the Quality Jobs Network and the 6 Wins for Social Equity. Working Partnerships USA and our networks of grassroots allies have been working with these partners to say that displacement and good jobs need to be at the center of the regional debate.
This week, after dozens of meetings where community members and workers spoke out about the crises facing the Bay Area's working families, MTC and ABAG adopted two new Performance Targets as part of Plan Bay Area, with the goals of:
- Reducing the risk of displacement for low- and moderate-income renters.
- Maintaining and expanding the share of middle-wage jobs in the Bay Area, so that more of our region's jobs will provide livable, family-supporting pay and benefits and be accessible to our local community members.
This victory is the first step towards a new framework for economic development that generates good, family-supporting jobs and access to those jobs for all of the Bay Area's diverse communities.
Our next step is to move from goals to concrete change: making sure that the policies and programs that the regional agencies adopt, and the billions of dollars in transportation, infrastructure and planning funds that they direct each year, have a real impact in supporting our communities' efforts on the ground. The Bay Area's cities and communities need strong regional support to help them push back against the "hourglass economy", the shrinking middle-wage job sector, and the explosion in low-wage, insecure jobs.
If you'd like to get involved, contact Louise Auerhahn at email@example.com to learn more about the Quality Jobs Network.
Making Health Care for All A RealityBy Charisse Ma Lebron, Director of Health Policy & Community Development Working Partnerships USA
Posted November 3, 2015
On November 3, 2015, Santa Clara County reached a major milestone in the movement for universal health coverage. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approve the Health Coverage Initiative, which will provide access to health coverage to all of our residents, regardless of income or documentation status.
The Health Care Initiative is a program that will expand access to a comprehensive system of care for those who previously had limited or no care. Approximately 167,000 residents in the County of Santa Clara remain uninsured because they do not qualify for Medi-Cal, Covered California, or other existing coverage programs. In the past, many low-income and undocumented patients have sought out a doctor's care only when their health needs reached a crisis point. Now, those same patients will have access to an assigned primary health care provider who can help them with preventive care or chronic disease management, so that their health needs can be addressed before reaching crisis points.
The design of this program was crafted carefully over a period of years and profoundly shaped by the voices of the residents whom the program aims to reach. Hundreds of residents gave input into the program in three languages via a dozen focus groups as well as community surveys held in neighborhoods and gathering places around Santa Clara County.
Beginning January 2016, the pilot phase of the Coverage Initiative aims to enroll 5,000 low-income, undocumented residents over a 12-month period. Better access to low-cost, quality healthcare means better health outcomes for all our residents, regardless of income or documentation status.
To ensure successful implementation of the Coverage Initiative program, Working Partnerships USA will continue working collaboratively with Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System (SCVHHS), Community Health Partnership (CHP), and other community-based partners to help facilitate community engagement and a seamless enrollment process.
This latest initiative is the culmination of nearly two years of a collaborative effort with SCVHHS and CHP, and a part of Working Partnerships USA's long-standing commitment to Healthcare for All, which began more than 15 years ago with the Children's Health Initiative, expanded into a focus on successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and now continues with our latest shared endeavors to reach the last remaining uninsured constituencies in our County.
At the heart of our work is the relentless pursuit and commitment to make sure that Silicon Valley is a place where all communities live, grow, and thrive. We are grateful to stand with dedicated partners and allies in this shared endeavor.
Fighting for Equitable Access to State-of-the-Art TransportationBy Charisse Ma Lebron, Director of Health Policy & Community Development Working Partnerships USA
Posted October 19, 2015
Transportation is a critical part of our lives. It determines our access to quality jobs, schools for our children, the health care services available to our loved ones, and impacts the environment. Yet, there has historically been an underinvestment in transportation infrastructure and services for low-income, communities of color in Silicon Valley.
For underserved communities, transportation is the second largest expense after housing, and residents of these communities either pay more than their counterparts for transit, or they do not have access to a transit system. Because of this inaccessibility, their primary mode of travel in the south bay is via car, which only contributes to the growing traffic congestion and poor air quality.
In an effort to ensure equity in transportation infrastructure spending and reduce adverse environmental impacts in Santa Clara County, Working Partnerships USA convenes the Transportation Justice Alliance (TJA), comprised of 16 organizations and community leaders, housing and transportation advocates, labor, faith communities, and other stakeholders. The TJA is heavily engaged in the Envision Silicon Valley process to ensure that the potential 2016 transportation ballot measure will invest in transportation projects that meet the needs of our most underserved communities and support multimodal travel.
Among the TJA's Major Victories:
- Successfully advocating for a public and inclusive process for exploring a potential transit tax
- Incorporating equity into the Envision Silicon Valley Goals
- Co-presenting community meetings with VTA to solicit meaningful input for a potential transit tax.
- Incorporating equity-informed performance metrics into the Envision Silicon Valley Evaluation Criteria
- Collaborating with VTA to submit a Comprehensive Bus Enhancement proposal into the Call for Projects process that benefits underserved communities.
From now through fall 2016, Working Partnerships USA and its TJA Partners will continue the fight for transportation justice. Out next steps include:
- Incorporating a system of feedback and evaluation concerned with equity
- Continuing to work with the VTA to help fund projects that are responsive to the communities they serve
- Advocating for an equity-informed expenditure plan for the potential transit tax that meets the needs of the community, consistent with the Envision SV Goals
Transportation is a collective enterprise. We need to work together to make it work for all residents in the south bay, regardless of economic status. It serves all of our communities to have a robust and affordable transportation system that increases ridership, and reduces traffic congestion and impact to air quality. We ask you to join the fight for transportation justice.
Community and Elected Officials Rally to Disrupt Inequality
Posted September 22, 2015
Over 150 community members, workers, clergy and elected officials rallied and marched today to call on Silicon Valley companies Hyatt and Citrix to treat workers with dignity and create jobs that rebuild the middle class.
The action was led by Silicon Valley Rising, an unprecedented coalition of labor, faith and community that is building a tech economy that works for everyone. Working Partnerships USA is a coalition founder.
Citrix contracts with Universal Protection Service, a security services firm notorious for its workers rights violations as its employees have fought to have a voice at work. As UPS's client, Citrix has yet to exercise its tremendous power to ensure its dollars are going to responsible contractors who respect the right to organize.
Hyatt Santa Clara benefits from the explosion of wealth in the region and must be accountable to its workers who provide hospitality to engineers, investors and others who come to Silicon Valley. These hotel workers have been campaigning for better wages, fair treatment and a less hazardous work environment for over seven years.
High tech companies contract out most service jobs to workers who are poorly paid and, for a large part, don't receive basic benefits. And in a stark diversity gap, African Americans and Latinos make up the majority of these janitors, food service workers, maintenance workers, security officers and shuttle bus drivers, yet comprise just three to four percent of the directly hired core tech workforce.
Sunnyvale protects neighborhoods, regulates short-term rentals
Posted September 16, 2015
Last night, Sunnyvale adopted Silicon Valley's strongest ordinance that regulates short-term rentals of residential property, such as Airbnb, HomeAway, or FlipKey rentals. With the support of Working Partnerships USA, the Sunnyvale City Council passed an ordinance designed to curb the impact of short-term rentals on affordable housing. The new ordinance allows hosted-only short-term rentals, requires a permit from the City, and does not extend the policy to mobile home parks. It also regulates a maximum of 4 lodgers per night at any given single-family dwelling. Finally, the Council emphasized the importance of monitoring the growth of short-term rentals in their community and any potential impacts to the local affordable housing stock.
When it comes to short-term rentals, neighborhood stability and public safety must be considered, as well as the impact to affordable housing. Bad actors, speculative buyers, or absentee landlords who have little consideration for community concerns or neighborhood preservation may buy apartment buildings or multiple homes and convert them to short-term rentals for profit. This could take rental units off the market and change neighborhood character.
Working Partnerships USA, UNITE HERE, workers, and community members were on hand last night to support the Council taking a strong position on short-term rentals. While Sunnyvale's ordinance has stronger protections than San Jose's, there is room for improvement and learning. The City could add a permanent residency requirement and a cap on the total number of days a property can be short-term rented per year. These requirements would ensure people don't turn residential space into perpetual short-term rentals and remove housing from the market. We will continue to push for these requirements as Sunnyvale continues to consider this issue. Working Partnerships USA and UNITE HERE are working collaboratively to ensure that concerns related to affordable housing and neighborhood preservation are considered as short-term rentals proliferate in the South Bay.
As the 'on-demand economy' grows, we will continue to work on policies that safeguard our communities, support quality jobs, promote a high quality of life, and preserve the ability for local governments to protect their residents. Together, we will continue to build an economy that works for everyone.
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