Immigration reform push offers
opportunity to fix workplace safety laws
Posted April 26, 2013
Derecka Mehrens, Working Partnerships' interim executive director, opens Workers' Memorial Day observance.
Sixteen months after immigrant worker Raul Zapata was buried alive at a Milpitas construction site that authorities had declared dangerous, the revived immigration reform movement offers an opportunity to bring much-needed changes to worker protection laws.
That was the message delivered today by Doug Bloch, Teamsters Joint Council 7 political director, at Working Partnerships' observance of the 26th annual Workers' Memorial Day.
While the annual observance is about remembering those who've lost their lives on the job, Working Partnerships' breakfast event this year built from that to focus on the California workers most vulnerable to workplace exploitation -- immigrants -- and a briefing on legislation intended to strengthen immigrant protections.
As outlined by Maria Noel Fernandez, Working Partnerships associate director of organizing and civic engagement, exploitation of immigrant workers is rampant because they are threatened with deportation by employers who hired them in willful disregard of their status because it gives the employer leverage over workers. The exploitation includes refusing to pay employees for work, refusing to pay overtime or provide breaks, refusing to provide safe working conditions and relies on threats to those who complain even though labor laws make the employer practices illegal.
Three bills pending in the California Legislature would address these abuses. AB 263 would make it a crime for an employer to engage in immigration-related retaliatory practices such as threatening to call federal immigration authorities to check on employees who complain about not being paid. AB 524 would clarify that a retaliatory threat to contact immigration authorities is a form of extortion. And SB 666 would revoke the business license of an employer who retaliates against employees.
See a slideshow of the briefing here.Tweet
Working Partnerships and MACLA announce
student art contest to choose design
for anti-outdoor smoking poster
Posted April 23, 2013
A talented local middle or high school student's art work will become the design of an anti-smoking poster to be made available to San Jose apartment and condominium complexes in an art contest sponsored by Working Partnerships and MACLA, the Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana.
MACLA will display entries all day Aug. 2, the monthly South FIRST FRIDAYS self-guided tour of San Jose art galleries and museums, so that the public can vote on its favorite.
Working Partnerships created the contest as a part of its San Jose Fresh Air project to promote awareness and compliance with San Jose's outdoor smoking ordinance among young people and communities of color. The ordinance bans smoking in outdoor common areas of apartment and condominium complexes, outdoor dining areas and in outdoor service lines -- all areas where non-smokers can't avoid harmful second-hand smoke.
The contest winner's poster will be used in signage that Working Partnerships will produce and distribute to apartment and condominium complexes for posting in non-smoking areas.
Working Partnerships has publicized the contest in local schools, but anyone 19 or younger is eligible to enter. Posters must include drawn images, contain no gang-related material and no violence. Creativity and how well the anti-smoking message is conveyed count as much as artistic talent.
Contact Leila McCabe for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tweet
Anti-smoking smart mob erupts
at San Jose State's Earth Day celebration
Posted April 23, 2013
Earth Day anti-smoking smart mob at San Jose State.
As hundreds of San Jose State students streamed through the campus pedestrian intersection of the Paseo de San Carlos and the Ninth Street Plaza where the university's Earth Day San Jose celebration was being held, the sounds of drums and guitar music broke through the lunchtime chatter.
Singers and dancers -- including a giant frog -- converged on the plaza.
It was the latest "smart mob" performance of "Don't Smoke So Close to Me" by Working Partnerships' Anti-Tobacco Organizing Committee, part of our Fresh Air Campaign to remind the public to comply with San Jose's recently adopted outdoor smoking ordinance. The ordinance bans outdoor smoking in dining places, service lines and common spaces at condo and apartment complexes where the second-hand smoke endangers non-smokers.
See a slideshow of what happened here. The video will be posted soon.Tweet
Bill Moyers' Silicon Valley inequality video
hits top 5 of his show's most viewed
Posted April 17, 2013
"Moyers & Company" camera goes inside a tent
in a San Jose homeless encampment.
After only a week online, the combined viewership of the two versions of "Moyers & Company's" coverage of Silicon Valley economic inequality rank as the fifth most-seen video in the public television show's 15-month history.
"These videos are popular because they tell the truth about our economy," said Derecka Mehrens, Working Partnerships' interim executive director. "Wall Street and the well-to-do feel an economic recovery, but Bill Moyers and our LIVE reports look at the economy from the perspective of people working and trying to survive in it, and they know America's poor and middle class are being left out."
First posted online April 10 as a 6-minute video report called "Homeless in High Tech's Shadow" and then repackaged at 13 minutes with an essay by Moyers entitled "The United States of Inequality," broadcast nationally April 15, nearly 70,000 combined views have been recorded on Vimeo.
The show does not release its broadcast or online viewer figures, said Lauren Feeney, who produced and edited the initial report, but "this is comparing a video that's been live for a week to videos that have been live for over a year."Tweet