Regional Economic Analysis
Over the past decade Working Partnerships USA has played an important role in changing the discussion about the state of the Santa Clara County economy.  While many were hailing Silicon Valley’s overnight millionaires, we exposed the cruel inequalities that sometimes resulted, and the rise of contingent, low wage work as a major part of our regional economy.  In using working people’s perspective to examine the structural problems inherent in the New Economy, we seek to build the foundation for policy solutions that will create an economy where growth leads to broadly shared prosperity.


Read about our upcoming project, the Working Families Index

Immigrant Workers
In September 2003, twenty-three community representatives from Santa Clara County embarked on a journey to draw attention to immigrant workers’ struggles for justice.  They joined one thousand Immigrant Freedom Riders from around the country in highlighting immigrants’ contributions to the United States and moving the issue of immigrant rights to the forefront of the national agenda.

On the one-year anniversary of the Immigrant Workers’ Freedom Ride, Working Partnerships USA unveiled a new study that brought immigrant issues further into the mainstream by demonstrating the pivotal role immigration has played in making Silicon Valley the epicenter of the global economy, and that the ongoing contributions of immigrants are essential if California is to continue to grow and prosper.  This landmark research has been particularly useful to local immigrants’ rights organizations in communicating with the media and elected officials on policy matters important to their constituencies. As the most comprehensive effort to date to understand the net gain immigrants make to the local economy, it has been frequently cited in recent debates and was placed on the reading list for the Immigrant Leadership Course at San Jose City College.

Read The Economic Effects of Immigration in Santa Clara County and California

Read media coverage of The Economic Effects of Immigration in Santa Clara County and California

The Cardea Project
In Santa Clara County, the impact of the high-tech crash echoed far beyond the “official” recession in 2001. Low income and middle class families have borne the brunt of job loss and hard times, and it is working and low income women who must struggle the most to make ends meet. Concerned with the long-term effects of this crisis, Working Partnerships USA and the Santa Clara County Office of Women's Policy launched the Cardea Project to focus on the experiences of low income and working women in Santa Clara County.

To share information about women’s needs and develop collaborative solutions to the immediate crisis, in fall 2003 we convened a cross-section of community and political leaders.  Recommendations from this meeting informed our research and analysis, culminating in the June 2004 report Understanding the Effects of the Recession on Women: Tools for Empowerment A second community convening heralded the report’s release, serving as both a platform to distribute Cardea’s findings concerning the crisis and a forum for developing a broad-based community response.  Recommendations that grew out of the report and community convenings include expanding health care programs; improving education and job training for women, especially in nontraditional careers; and increasing access to affordable child care.

The Contingent Workers Project
The Contingent Workers Project began in 1996 with the publication of Shock Absorbers in the Flexible Economy, a report exposing the negative effects of the growing temporary employment sector.  Working Partnerships USA then began working to invent and model potential solutions to the problems created by the rise of contingent forms of work.

  • The Working Partnerships Membership Association (WPMA), created in 2001, enabled more than 3,000 temp workers to secure affordable and portable health care benefits while banding together to advocate for higher employment standards in their industry. WPMA members created and advocated for a Temporary Workers’ Bill of Rights, and provided support for temporary worker organizing nationwide through the North American Alliance for Fair Employment (NAAFE).
  • The Working Partnerships Staffing Service, a staffing agency operating in San Jose from 1998 to 2003, demonstrated that a temp agency could be both competitive and fair to its workers.  The Staffing Service provided a model for a profitable high road employment staffing agency. At the end of 2003, we completed this demonstration project and turned our focus to policy advocacy, developing industry standards, and supporting contingent workers’ organizing efforts.
  • Building on our initial development of the Temp Workers’ Bill of Rights, Working Partnerships USA provided technical support for temp workers seeking fair working conditions at one of the largest employers in the county.  In the summer of 2003, Working Partnerships USA provided research and organizing assistance to a campaign by temp workers at Stanford; as a result, long-term temporary workers gained conversion to permanent positions, and all temps won a voice at work.

    Report: Temporary Employment in Stanford and Silicon Valley

  • In 2001, taxi drivers in San Jose -- who were legally classified as independent contractors, but in reality depended upon the cab companies for employment -- faced rising fees imposed by those cab companies, forcing them to work 12-14 hour days just to make ends meet. Many of these drivers joined the Working Partnerships Membership Association to obtain health benefits, and then approached Working Partnerships USA for support in organizing for their rights as workers. With Working Partnerships USA's support, the contingent drivers won justice for fired workers and, eventually, an overhaul of the city taxi system.
  • In partnership with the Center on Policy Initiatives, we designed a bill (AB880) that aimed to compensate local governments for the high taxpayer costs of low wage temp work by requiring a state payroll tax on temporary agencies, with the funds raised directed to local governments for indigent health care and other services for low wage workers. In May 2003, AB880 was passed through the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, despite massive, organized opposition from the staffing industry. Though the bill did not become law, it helped to raise awareness of the issues creating by growing temporary hiring.

Workforce Development
Working Partnerships endeavors to accomplish its mission by bringing a much wider range of voices to the table in discussions of economic development strategies, workforce development and employment policy. Our research and analysis of workforce development strategies, labor market intermediaries, and career ladders has included:

© 2008 Working Partnerships USA, All rights reserved.