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Victory!

Seated people with signs

In front of a crowd of dozens of supporters, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted this morning to make Silicon Valley home to the nation’s most comprehensive living wage ordinance.

The County employs 17,000 workers and spends over $2.2 every year on contracts. This is a massive job footprint, yet 1 in 3 workers earns to little to pay for basic necessities.

The living wage ordinance sets principles for the County’s attack on poverty; the Board will vote in spring on a package of policies to put those principles into practice.

Thanks to the leadership of Supervisors Ken Yeager and Dave Cortese – and to months of work by the labor and community organizations and individuals in the Silicon Valley Living Wage Coalition – the Board adopted the recommendations of Working Partnership USA’s report, “Setting Job Standards for a New Economy: An Innovative Living Wage for Silicon Valley.”

Workers employed by County contractors will now be guaranteed:

  1. Fair compensation: $19.06/hour, increasing as the cost of living rises, with incentives for employer-paid health insurance and retirement. Paid sick leave and paid jury duty.
  2. Fair workweek: Access to increased work hours for part-timers and flexible, predictable schedules that allow workers to plan their lives – like child care, a second job or going to school. Stable jobs even when contracts change hands.
  3. Equal opportunity: A fair chance at jobs for formerly incarcerated workers, local residents, and disadvantaged workers like veterans, former foster youth or CalWorks clients.
  4. A voice at work: Protection from retaliation against workers who exercise their rights.

In the past 20 years, over 140 local governments have passed living wage ordinances. Santa Clara County has taken it to the next level by taking the best of anti-poverty legislation around the country and rolling it into one comprehensive framework to make sure taxpayer money goes to create good jobs.

More work remains to be done for our coalition to fight for the strongest possible language as these principles in the framework get written into policy:

  1. Fair workweek to end abusive work schedules;
  2. Incentives for contractors to hire local and disadvantaged workers;
  3. Applying the comprehensive living wage standards to County employees and
  4. A living wage policy for nonprofit contractors that protects both workers and services.

We’ll come together early in the new year to celebrate this incredible victory and get ready to keep winning in 2015!

Read more on the Left Hook

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