Living Wage
In 1998, Working Partnerships led the effort to pass a living wage policy in the City of San Jose. The resulting Living Wage Ordinance was notable not just for the wage level it set – at the time, the highest in the nation – but for the framework it provided for building good jobs. The ordinance contained strong worker retention language, ensuring stability for workers as contracts shift back and forth, and a labor peace provision giving an incentive to employers who pursue high road employment practices and supporting employees in gaining a voice at work.

We have continued our work to expand the benefits of living wage, as well as winning a Living Wage Policy at the Santa Clara Valley Water District [Link to SCVWD press release]; the policy passed on March 31, 2004, César Chávez Day, in honor of Chávez’ s struggle for worker justice.  Over 7,600 workers in the region have benefited from living wage and labor peace principles.

As of July 2006, the San Jose Living Wage is $12.27 with health benefits and $13.52 without.

See the complete ordinance
Find out how the Living Wage has benefited rental car drivers at San Jose Airport
Read more in Living Wage: An Opportunity for San Jose

The Partnership for Working Families
In 2003, Working Partnerships USA joined with partners in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Oakland to form the California Partnership for Working Families, a network dedicated to supporting local efforts to make economic development funds accountable to California's citizens.  In 2005, this project expanded to the national level.

The new _Partnership for Working Families_ [Link: (PWF) is dedicated to ensuring that public resources are invested in ways that are economically sound and provide a return to the community.  The community and labor organizations that make up the PWF network are working to reform development policy in cities throughout the county.

Working Partnerships helps to lead PWF through our executive director’s role as chair of the Board of Directors. In addition, Working Partnerships USA is the anchor organization for PWF in San Jose, and we provide technical assistance, training, and guidance to newer, less developed organizations.

One recent success by an emerging partner group took place in Boston, through the efforts of Community Labor United. Working Partnerships USA provided technical assistance to the _Boston Public School Painting Campaign, an effort that successfully redirected $2.5 million per year in school painting expenditures from low wage, non-union, outside workers to union jobs with training for Boston residents and youth.
Read about our current work with PWF
Read about our other statewide and national projects

Team San Jose
Team San Jose, the business-labor-arts partnership created in 2004 to take over the faltering San Jose Convention Center, has prevented privatization, preserved high-quality jobs, and met and exceeded its goals for bringing new business to the downtown hospitality industry. As a public benefit corporation jointly governed by local business leaders, the San Jose Convention and Visitors Bureau, organized labor, and downtown arts organizations, Team San Jose continues to serve as a model of government efficiency and public/private investment that stands in the face of prevailing “low-road” privatization trends.

Taxi San Jose
Modeled after Team San Jose, Taxi San Jose Inc. is a partnership between taxicab drivers, taxi and door-to-door shuttle companies, the San Jose Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the South Bay Labor Council, and UFCW Local 5, the taxi drivers’ union. In June 2005, Taxi San Jose won the contract with the City of San Jose to restructure the taxi dispatch procedure at San Jose International Airport, creating a new permitting system and launching “On-Demand” dispatch services.  The result has been an airport taxi system that provides fairer and more consistent compensation to drivers, opens up the airport market to all participating cab companies, and provides faster and higher quality service to passengers at the airport.

Transportation Justice
For the past five years, Working Partnerships USA has been building the capacity of community allies to craft a broad agenda for transportation justice and become more effective in advocating for an equitable transportation policy.

In 2002, this coalition of transit advocates achieved a major victory with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA)’s commitment to extend the Light Rail system to San Jose’s East Side, a predominantly Latino community including a high proportion of low income working residents who rely upon transit.  The new Tasman/ East Capitol Light Rail line was completed and began operation in 2004.  Advocates are continuing to work to ensure that the Downtown East Valley Light Rail segment is completed.

Declining sales tax revenues have placed a strain on VTA’s finances. Working Partnerships USA worked with transit advocates and low income neighborhoods to prevent a planned 21% cut to bus services in 2003, and subsequently won a commitment from VTA to expand bus service.

In 2006 Working Partnerships USA spearheaded the effort to launch the VTA RIDE Task Force, a first-of-its-kind commitment to engage the public around transit policy. The proposal for the RIDE Task Force sprang from the problems caused by insistence on trying to increase farebox revenues by raising fares, which actually reduces ridership by those who have other transportation options, and places an even greater burden on low income transit-dependent residents.  To offer an alternative to this counterproductive program of continually raising fares, the RIDE Task Force worked to develop new ways to make transit more accessible and encourage people to ride buses and light rail, thereby raising farebox revenues by increasing ridership.

The Task Force’s first major project, a collaboration to provide free transit passes to low income families, won the VTA’s support and is currently seeking approval from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The RIDE Task Force has, for the first time, institutionalized a community voice in major transit policy discussions.
Read about our current transportation advocacy

Affordable Housing
2001 saw the launch of an historic affordable housing collaboration between tenants’ rights groups, housing advocates, community based organizations, labor, and the faith community, spearheaded by Working Partnerships.  In June of that year Working Partnerships USA released Everyone’s Valley: Inclusion and Affordable Housing in Silicon Valley, providing a comprehensive review of Silicon Valley’s housing crisis and proposing an ambitious policy agenda, developed by the affordable housing collaborative, to build a total of more than eight thousand new affordable units in Santa Clara County.

Following the launch of our housing policy agenda, housing advocates scored a major victory when San Jose agreed to increase the amount of its Redevelopment Agency income committed to affordable housing, from the state-mandated minimum of 20% up to 30%.  Advocacy by Working Partnerships and allies then persuaded the City of Santa Clara to do the same, raising its affordable housing commitment to 30% in June 2002. This action not only provided additional resources for housing, but placed pressure on other municipalities to follow suit.

In addition, when Santa Clara County obtained a large new pool of housing revenue, our coalition persuaded the Board of Supervisors to allocate 30% of those funds to affordable housing, with the majority of those funds targeted for special needs populations, such as elderly residents, the physically and mentally disabled, and the previously homeless.

In 2004, San Jose faced a challenge in attracting housing developers to downtown; though it was a prime spot for dense high-rise housing, high costs made it difficult for potential developers to meet affordable housing requirements.  Working Partnerships USA and the Housing Advisory Commission developed a proposal to encourage housing construction and downtown revitalization without abandoning affordable housing principles: exempt developers of high-rise housing from building affordable units on-site, but require that the first two years of additional property tax generated by the new developments be spent on affordable housing. On August 17, 2004, the City Council approved the housing incentive program, paving the way for several thousand housing units downtown that have since been built or are in the pipeline.

Finally, Working Partnerships USA has successfully advocated for the San Jose City Council to reserve 20% of the planned housing in Coyote Valley as affordable, creating a commitment to building 5,000 new units of affordable housing.

Tenants’ Rights
In October of 2002, in response to efforts made by Working Partnerships USA and our partners, the San Jose City Council approved an ordinance to protect renters from rapid and unjust evictions.

Contractor Prequalification
Working Partnerships USA provided background research and recommendations that resulted in the Valley Transportation Authority’s adopting a Pre-Qualification program for its public works contractors. Pre-qualification requires firms to verify their status as responsible contractors beforebidding on a project; its goal is to weed out irresponsible contractors early on, resulting in improved performance on projects, fewer complications and lawsuits in the bidding process, and a more level playing field for legitimate contractors. See VTA’s Pre-Qualification Notice

The Tax and Fiscal Policy Project
In May 2006, Working Partnerships USA published An Historical Analysis of Tax and Fiscal Propositions in California, 1978-2004, providing an unprecedented and comprehensive analysis of factors leading to the success or failure of every tax and fiscal ballot measure since Proposition 13 in 1978.

Over the past year, in partnership with American Environics, the Tax and Fiscal Policy Project (TFPP) used social values research to interview hundreds of Californians in regard to both their basic values frameworks and their more focused opinions on tax and fiscal issues. Statistical analysis of this data revealed several constituencies, each of which holds a distinct values framework and attitude towards tax and fiscal policy. While the size of the progressive tax and fiscal base is predictably small, our analysis reveals tremendous opportunities to reach deeply within traditional, demographic bases and to reach more broadly into non-traditional constituencies with effective messages.

We are now taking our analysis on the road, with the objective of presenting the polling analysis to numerous organizations in multiple sectors and across the state as a first step in organizing coalition partners.  Simultaneously, the TFPP has identified target constituencies to test values-based framing and messages around and tax and fiscal policies in a local/regional context.

© 2008 Working Partnerships USA, All rights reserved.