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Working Partnerships addresses the root causes of inequality in today's economy through building the capacity of workers and communities of color to lead and govern.

 

Temporary Work, Permanent Injuries

Posted September 17, 2014

"After years of giving my best to Taylor Farms, after seriously injuring myself at work, I was thrown away like garbage--I was explicitly fired because of my injury. No working person should have to endure such abusive, shameful treatment." --
Victor Borjas

The nature of work is changing across the country.

Nationwide, there were about 3.4 million so-called “staffing-agency jobs” last year according to the National Employment Law Project. What we know is that as this workforce trend grows, so does the erosion of basic rights to protect workers’ health and safety.

Workers in the food processing industry are particularly vulnerable to health and safety risks in the workplace, which is reflected by the fact that in 2012, nonfatal work-related injury or illness for full-time food-manufacturing workers’ was greater than in all of manufacturing and the private sector.

That’s why Working Partnerships partnered with the Occupational Health Internship Program to investigate the reality that “temp workers” in the food processing industry face every day at Taylor Farms in Tracy, CA.

Read our reports here.


Part of the Family: The Battle for Domestic Workers' Rights

Posted September 3, 2014

Join us for our next Social Innovators Speaker Series event featuring

Sheila Bapat, author of Part of the Family?: Nannies, Housekeepers, Caregivers, and the Battle for Domestic Workers' Rights

When: Wednesday, September 10th
7 pm - 9 pm
Where: Santa Clara Valley Labor Center, 2102 Almaden Road, San Jose, CA 95125 Register: bit.ly/PartofFamily

Sheila's work has appeared in Jacobin, Salon, Reuters, Slate, Alternet, Truthout, and Penn Law, among others.

"One of the best books on a very present-day movement that we’ve read in a long while."—Demos, a progressive public policy organization

“[The book] will open the eyes and hearts of our nation and inspire vital changes in our policy and culture.”—Sarita Gupta, Executive Director of Jobs with Justice; Co-Director, caring Across Generation

FREE event, donations appreciated.  Food will be be provided.  Books will be sold.

Hosted by: Working Partnerships USA, South Bay First Thursdays, and Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA)

Sponsored by: PG&E


Tech's Diversity Problem: More than Meets the Eyeee

Posted August 25, 2014

Tech companies, like Apple and Google actually DO employ people of color. Their “diversity problem” is more than meets the eye.

Our analysis shows that tech corporations employ an “invisible workforce” of Latino, Black, and immigrant workers: those who clean, guard, maintain, and cook on tech campuses every day, often for poverty-level wages and without benefits.

These contracted service workers aren’t counted on tech companies’ official employment rolls and are rarely mentioned in the public discourse.

The study “Tech’s Diversity Problem: More Than Meets The Eye” reveals tech’s direct impact not only on its engineering workforce, but on the broader problems of inequality and working poverty in the region that so many tech superpowers call home.

In order to make Silicon Valley a valley of opportunity for everybody, we must start with improving standards for those on the bottom. Let’s work towards that vision with beginning to have a real conversation about what’s going in our community, not just what the major corporations want us to talk about.

Join us and stand with ALL tech workers by signing up to support the Tech Can Do Better campaign.


Today: Tell the County Government Why We Need a Living Wage

Posted August 25, 2014

TODAY, the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission is holding two town hall meetings on the cost of living in Silicon Valley.

Join us to tell the County government we need a living wage that provides fair wages, healthcare and earned sick days, and other crucial jobs standards.

To ensure we pass a strong living wage policy, it’s crucial that the County hears from people like us.

Details
There are two meetings today: 2-4pm, and 6-8pm.

Isaac Newton Auditorium:
70 W. Hedding St, San Jose, CA

Translation and free child care will be provided.

Your voice can drive home the urgency of quality jobs and build momentum for the living wage.


August 13: Earned Sick Leave Hearing in San Josese

Posted August 6, 2014

At one in three San Jose jobs, workers are forced to choose between working while sick or staying home to take care of themselves and losing much-needed pay.

That number is simply unacceptable.

Join us and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez on August 13th for a community hearing on earned sick leave.

We'll be releasing a new report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research that reveals just how widespread the lack of paid sick leave is in our region, and will hear testimony from workers who experience this reality first-hand.

No one should have to decide between their paycheck and their health, and earned sick time would ensure thousands of working families don't have to face that choice. Register for the hearing here.


Raising the Floor, Closing the Income Gap

Posted August 4, 2014

In the spirit of the Labor Movement and Labor Day, please join us for a special Social Innovators Speaker Series event featuring nationally-recognized author, activist, and interfaith leader Kim Bobo.

When: Wednesday, August 27th 6 pm – 8 pm

Where: Santa Clara Valley Labor Center 2102 Almaden Road, San Jose, CA 95125 [map]

Register: bit.ly/RaiseFloorCloseGap

As always with our Series, the event is FREE; donations accepted. Food will also be provided.

About the Speaker:
Kim Bobo was named one of 14 faith leaders to watch in 2014 by the Center for American Progress, and one of Utne Reader's "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World" in 2009.

Kim helped coin the phrase “wage theft.” Her book Wage Theft in America helped get the issue on the national radar.

Prior to founding Interfaith Worker Justice, Kim was a trainer for the Midwest Academy and Director of Organizing for Bread for the World. She is co-author of Organizing for Social Change, the best-selling organizing manual in the country.

Questions? Email son@wpusa.org or call 408-809-2122.


Doing Nothing is not an Option

Posted July 29, 2014

Working Partnerships USA, with the support of other community groups, started a donation drive one week ago for the families and children detained at the border. In that time, we have collected dozens of giant boxes filled with needed supplies. We recognize that this crisis migration is part of bigger issue that should be addressed from the root cause.

While we acknowledge that this one act alone will not resolve the larger crisis, we must organize and act quickly to provide for these children in need. For the past weeks community members and groups including Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and SIREN have shown tremendous support by collecting donations.

On July 21st we sent the first batch of donations down south. We plan to continue collecting donations until August 16th. We hope that our community continues to support this effort and put pressure on our representatives to use their power to implement humanitarian and just solutions – not deportation.

Read entire article by Sarait Martinez-Ortega on The Left Hook.

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If you’re interested in donating, please stop by our office at 2102 Almaden Road, Suite 112, San Jose, CA. For more information, contact Sarait at 408-809-2121 or Sarait@wpusa.org.


High Quality Early Childhood Education

Posted July 9, 2014

Working Partnerships has completed its work with FIRST 5 Santa Clara County and UC Berkeley to support high quality early childhood education through their study, Building an Early Childhood Education Teaching Quality Model.

Our dynamic team of assessors traveled to over 65 preschools and family child care sites to assess the impact of FIRST 5’s professional development programs, which provide training, coaching, and other professional development for preschool teachers. With close to 500 children assessed, the study gauged the cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional development of our county's preschoolers in relation to their teachers’ participation in one of the various professional training programs offered.

Working Partnerships’ commitment to children and youth goes from 2001, when we pioneered the Children’s Health Initiative, our leadership in the 2012 campaign to secure funding for that and other children’s programs in the long term. Most recently, we successfully advocated for the inclusion of over $1 million in funding for youth programs in San Jose City budget. Participating in this project also supported our broader government accountability and reform work, helping FIRST 5 to maximize the use of public dollars on programs that have the biggest impact on children’s learning.

We look forward to sharing the results of the study when it is published.


Welcome, Charisse!

Posted July 1, 2014

We’re excited to welcome Charisse Ma Lebron, our new Director of Health Policy and Community Development. Charisse joins our team working for healthcare for all and a strong public safety net in an era of reform. She will lead our campaigns to expand access to high-quality public transportation, increase affordable housing and ensure equity as our communities grow.

Charisse brings over a decade of public policy experience in both government and nonprofit sectors, leading on issues ranging from socioeconomic and health equity to environmental sustainability and economic development. She served most recently as District Director for the California State Assembly Speaker pro Tempore. As Chief of Staff for San Mateo County Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson, she secured key partnerships of elected officials, federal agencies and regulators, top banking corporations and community-based stakeholders to address the housing crisis, resulting in assistance for 800 families; she also led execution of the County’s first job fair for formerly incarcerated residents, with over 30 major employers participating.

Read Charisse’s publications:

Prior to her service to elected officials, Charisse was the Director of Advocacy and Corporate Responsibility at Marin Institute, advocating for youth and people of color. At the California Reinvestment Coalition, she partnered with stakeholders to engage Fortune 500 banks and military leadership to combat predatory lending. She also held roles with Equality New Mexico and the Howard Dean Presidential Campaign.

Charisse holds a degree in political science and international relations from the University of Rochester. She sits on the Santa Clara County Housing and Community Development Advisory Commission and the Board of Directors of Pathways to Safety, an organization dedicated to helping victims of human trafficking. An avid traveler and scuba diver, Charisse lives in San Jose.


Trades Orientation Program

Posted June 11, 2014

Are you or someone you know interested in a challenging and fulfilling career in the construction industry?

Applications are being accepted now for the Santa Clara County Trades Orientation Program (TOP). Santa Clara County TOP is a 120-hour course leading to certification and the opportunity for a job with a union construction firm.

Applicants must be age 18+, have a high school diploma or GED, and be able and available to work full-time. Women, people of color and United States veterans are encouraged to apply.

Orientations will be held next week and classes begin in July. Interested applicants should call Gary Walsh at work2future, 408-794-1164.

Check out the flyer for more details.


Join Our Solidarity Circle, Join the Movement

Posted May 19, 2014

Working Partnerships USA just kicked off its Solidarity Circle Spring Donor Drive to build the movement for economic and racial justice in Silicon Valley by building a mass base of supporters.

Solidarity Circle is our new individual donors program for supporters like you who align with our values and vision for an inclusive economy for all.

Here are a few campaigns your contribution will help fuel:

Launching the Quality Jobs Network

  • Partnering with the San Mateo County Union Community Alliance and building on the 6 Wins coalition, Working Partnerships is bringing together labor, social justice, equity and environmental organizations to tackle the issue of good jobs standards in regional planning.

Fighting to Preserve Youth Funding

  • In a team with the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofit, Working Partnerships is fighting to preserve $2.1 million in the City of San Jose's 2014-15 budget for Youth Services by engaging hundreds of low-income residents on this issue, and we have seen incredible community support. Stopping Wage Theft

Stopping Wage Theft

  • In collaboration with 16 community organizations, we formed the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition to develop aggressive local policy solutions to wage theft. The Coalition is advocating for passage of a strong wage theft policy at the County of Santa Clara in the coming months which would increase penalties and deter employers from wage theft abuse.

With your support, we will launch new campaigns with core partners in labor, the faith community, and social justice advocates for jobs standards and living wages, earned sick leave policies for workers, and a transit system that works for communities of color in the Valley. Become a member today!


All Aboard Bus Rapid Transit

Posted May 14, 2014

Have you ever gotten stuck in traffic on 101, or stuck on a Caltrain that isn’t moving, or stuck at a VTA stop waiting on a bus? If you live or work in Silicon Valley, whether you drive, take public transit, or both, your answer is probably “yes”.

Transportation infrastructure is a critical link to economic opportunity, connecting us to jobs, school, and more – but the transportation system in the Valley is straining to accommodate our growing population.

One promising innovation to help increase mobility is Bus Rapid Transit. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is an enhanced bus system with new specialized vehicles, dedicated lanes and improved technology to provide faster, more frequent and more reliable service. BRT provides the flexibility of buses with the efficiency of rail.

In Silicon Valley, years of planning have gone into developing a proposed BRT system that would greatly improve transit service and help relieve roadway congestion. However, so far, the voice of average bus riders has largely been left out of this debate. In fact, BRT opponents have often tried to argue that “no one rides the bus.”

We know that is far from the truth. In the past two months Working Partnerships volunteers and staff have talked with over 200 bus riders to help ensure those voices are at the decision making table. The newly launched Silicon Valley Transit Riders United is now fighting to improve transportation options for tens of thousands of workers, students, seniors and other residents all over the County.

Organizing for better transportation options is more than a Silicon Valley phenomenon – it’s a national movement. From May 12-16, folks across the country are celebrating National Infrastructure Week by talking about how we can rebuild and re-envision our nation's transportation, water, and energy systems to reinvigorate quality job creation and increase access to basic services for all communities.

To find out more or get involved in our campaigns for quality jobs and transportation justice, contact maria@wpusa.org.


When Workers Must Come First

Posted May 12, 2014

Check out the following contributions by Working Partnerships' staff on recent events!

Director of Policy and Research Bob Brownstein’s article “San Jose’s False Reform: It’s Time to Get Real About Pensions and Other Challenges,” featured on the Mercury News, points out the reality that followed San Jose’s pension reform: losses in public services and neighborhood security.

Obama’s visit to Walmart in Mountain View drew demonstrations from activists and labor groups that opposed the President's decision to recognize a company that champions worker repression and poverty wages. Director of Organizing and Civic Engagement Maria Noel Fernandez was interviewed by SF Gate, and expressed disappointment with Obama who chose to “visit Walmart, instead of actively supporting its workers.”  She was also interviewed by El Mensajero on its coverage.

Executive Director Derecka Mehrens, along with Worksafe Executive Director Gail Bateson, authored an article for Workers’ Memorial Day, advocating for safer workplaces and international worker power, in light of the tragedies at the garment factory in Bangladesh and Taylor Farms in California.

Likewise, the article "Remember Fallen Workers," written by Maria Noel and Worksafe Program Administrator Nicole Marquez, alludes to the legacy of the United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez in the current struggles among food processing workers who continue to face high rates of injuries, frequent retaliations when they try to report these injuries, and rampant wage theft.


Mourn for the Dead,  Fight for the Living!

Posted April 29, 2014

Close to 100 community, faith, elected, and labor leaders turned out to Monday’s Workers’ Memorial Day procession starting from Plaza de Cesar Chavez and press event at San Jose City Hall.

The demonstrative and symbolic event sought to not only honor workers who have passed and those who work under dangerous conditions, but also to bring attention to policymakers and employers the importance of workplace safety.

At the press event, workers from different trades shared their stories to illustrate the realities of the dangers on the job.

Other featured speakers included Consul General of Mexico Carlos Ponce Martinez, Business Manager of Plumbers Local 393 Bill Meyer, Staff Attorney of Worksafe Nicole Marquez, and Boardmember of the Interfaith Council on Economics and Justice Stan Taylor

Check out event pictures, an article about the event by the Left Hook, and Worksafe's report "Dying at Work in California: The Hidden Stories Behind the Number," in which Director of Organizing & Civic Engagement Maria Noel Fernandez is a contributor.


Get on the Bus!

Posted April 16, 2014

VTA and Santa Clara County cities are close to making final decisions about the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

These final decisions could improve transportation options for tens of thousands of workers, people of color, immigrants, students, seniors, and other residents across the county.

However, so far, the voice of average bus riders has largely been left out of the debate.  In fact, BRT opponents have often argued that very few people ride the bus, despite being presented with data showing otherwise.

Please join Working Partnerships on 4/22, 4/23, or 4/24 to outreach to bus riders, inform them about the BRT projects, and ensure riders have a strong voice in key upcoming decisions impacting the bus system. 

Food and training provided. 

Please sign up for one or more volunteer shifts: http://www.wpusa.org/brt

Download the Flyer


Workers' Memorial Day 2014

Posted April 9, 2014

Workers? Memorial Day takes place every year on 4/28 to remember workers, killed, disabled, injured, or made unwell by their work.

With the help of unions and the progressive community, Working Partnerships is co-hosting San Jose’s Workers’ Memorial Day march and press event to raise awareness of the issue of workplace safety to policymakers and the larger community.

Please join us on April 28th from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm to address the need for good jobs that are safe and healthy to ensure the freedom of workers to form unions – and through their unions – speak out and bargain for respect and a better future.

When: April 28, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Where: Gather at Cesar Chavez Plaza @ 11:30 am, Procession to City Hall, Press Event outside City Hall Rotunda @ 12:15 pm
Who: Union members, allies, community members **Please come in your work uniform**

Download the Flyer

RSVP to Maria at maria@wpusa.org or 408-809-2134


 

California Calls Reaches 1,000 Voters on Progressive Reform

Posted April 7, 2014

In collaboration with the California Calls coalition, Working Partnerships engaged close to 1,000 voters on local budget issues during the spring round of phone banking.

We contacted some of the areas hardest hit by the budget cuts and talked to residents about their desire to invest in education, healthcare, and senior care. Over 90% of voters expressed their interest in raising and directing money to the communities most in need by investing in community centers, gang prevention services, and youth/senior programs.

In addition, we encouraged voters to participate in a larger discussion of issues by inviting them to speak with an organizer about what they are seeing in their community. More than 300 people voiced their interest in working with our organizer to help move our leaders to support funding for programs that will make positive impacts in our neighborhoods.


Quality Jobs Network Brings Together the Bay Area to Work for Better Jobs

Posted April 2, 2014

A network of labor, social justice, equity, and environmental organizations have come together to tackle the issue of good jobs standards at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), which controls over $700 billion in federal, state, and other funds for transportation, development, and conservation projects.

The issues of job quality and access have been largely absent from the plans and funding decisions made by MTC. As a result, development in the Bay Area often happens in ways that exacerbate existing disparities and widen the inequality gap.

Led by Working Partnerships USA and the San Mateo County Union Community Alliance, the Quality Jobs Network is building upon the broader 6 Wins Network, which last year achieved impressive victories in adding an equity lens to regional planning.

In 2014, the Network plans to target funding for local transportation and planning activities known as One Bay Area Grants and the criteria for spending “cap-and-trade” funds, which are generated by the auction of greenhouse gas emissions permits under AB 32, California’s historic Global Warming Solutions Act.

Adding explicit standards and metrics for good, quality, accessible jobs to both these programs will be 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.

To find out more or get involved, contact Louise Auerhahn at lauerhahn@wpusa.org.


 

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As many as 18,000 Silicon Valley households in the federal Section 8 housing program are getting rent increases and 3,000 to 4,000 families will get rent increases as well as a reduction in their housing size as a result of budget cuts known as "sequestration." The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley is offering free legal services, counseling and referrals to Section 8 voucher holders who have received nonpayment notices or who are subject to eviction. Please call (408) 280-2424. Download more information here.


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