SF Board of Supervisors Says Google Buses Need “Labor Harmony”

Google Bus Blockade

By  @FitzTheReporter

The board of supervisors passed a resolution Tuesday strongly urging the city’s transit agency to consider “labor harmony” when approving commuter shuttles for partnership with San Francisco.

 “It’s important to ensure that the drivers of these shuttles are treated fairly in terms of wages and working conditions,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who authored the resolution.

“Labor harmony” is broadly defined in the resolution, but essentially means this: when the so-called Google Buses go to The City for approval in the commuter shuttle pilot program, the board urges the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to consider if companies have good relations with unions before granting approval. Continue reading

San Jose: Veteran Officer Killed; Suspect Found Dead

SAN JOSE — A 14-year veteran San Jose police officer was killed Tuesday evening in a dramatic series of events that began with a call about a suicidal man and ended when police used explosives and a robot to breach the suspect’s apartment, but found him dead.

The killing of Officer Michael Johnson was the department’s first line-of-duty death in 14 years. He was fatally wounded as he responded to an apartment complex in the 2600 block of Senter Road around 6:48 p.m. Tuesday.

Officer  Michael Johnson, 14 year veteran of the San Jose PD was killed in the line of duty.

Officer Michael Johnson, 14 year veteran of the San Jose PD, was killed in the line of duty.

Johnson was the 12th SJPD officer killed in the department’s 166-year history. He was a field training officer at the time of his death.

Now, the SJPD community is reeling from an experience it has been spared from for nearly a decade and a half: mourning the loss of a comrade who gave his life to protecting the public.

“Officers are obviously crying, grieving, they will obviously do so for some time. Our hearts, our prayers go out with the family of Michael, our brother. This is a very difficult time right now,” police spokesman Officer Albert Morales said early Wednesday. “Rest assured we’ll keep him in our memories as we go out there and continue to do the job we loved to do and I’m sure that he loved to do.”

Adding to the heartache was the fact Johnson came from the same police academy class as Jeffrey Fontana, the last officer killed in the line of duty. Fontana was in his rookie year on the force when he was shot to death during a high-risk vehicle stop in South San Jose on October 28, 2001.

“As a chief this is not something we would ever want to do,” San Jose police Chief Larry Esquivel said at a news conference late Tuesday. “It’s a sad day for law enforcement and for the police department and the community.”

A statement from the San Jose Police Officers Association said all officers were grieving for Johnson, who leaves behind a wife.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Johnson’s family and friends,” the union said. “(Johnson) was tragically struck down in the prime of his life protecting and serving the residents of San Jose.”

Read the full story HERE.

Silicon Valley Can Afford to End Poverty


By John D. Sutter 

They marched across Silicon Valley to have a conversation about economic justice.

Four days and 30 miles later, the relatively small group of demonstrators — carrying signs that read “March to Heal the Valley” — arrived at the Cupertino, California, campus of Apple, the world’s richest company.

“We showed up, and we were informed that we were not allowed to be there,” said activist Andrew Bigelow, one of the brains behind the October 2013 demonstration, which he said included homeless people as well as those that couldn’t pay the valley’s exorbitant rents, which have been driven up by tech companies. “A lot of people just walked by and didn’t even look at us in the eyes. A lot of people were, you know, shaking their heads or laughing — talking to their friends while looking at us. It definitely felt different, you know.”

(An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the demonstration).

Another participant in the march, Raj Jayadev, told me it felt “like a parable.” I have to agree. It’s like David asking Goliath to kindly hear his grievances, only to have the giant plug his ears.

It’s high time for Apple, Google, Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies to acknowledge their role in creating a valley that not only is an economic powerhouse but also is crippled by inequality and poverty. These companies aren’t entirely to blame, but their founders and employees do have the cash to help stop this valley of strip malls and subdivisions from becoming a place where only the very wealthy can survive. With few counterexamples, the tech set has been shirking on its local civic duties — either ignorant of the fact that one in three kids in this rich valley is at risk for hunger or largely unwilling to care.

They aren’t helping enough.  And they have a moral obligation to do so. Continue reading

Bowling for Change 2015 a Great Success

The lanes at 4th Street Bowl in San Jose were humming Saturday night with a mix of union members, elected officials, and community leaders all out for a good time and a good cause, to support champions of change for working families.


The biennial  Bowling for Change drew hundreds to support the work of the South Bay Labor Council.  Currently, the Labor Council is leading a campaign to help elect Tim Orozco the San Jose City Council in District 4, a seat left vacant when another labor champion, Kansen Chu, was elected to the California State Assembly.  Other campaigns driven by the Labor Council include Silicon Valley Rising, a comprehensive effort to affect policies concerning housing, wages and corporate responsibility in Silicon Valley.

Mike Potter,  SCC Open Space Authority Chair, Tony Alexander, UFCW Local 5, Dominic Caserta, Santa Clara City Councilmember,  Corey Wolbach, Palo Alto City Councilmember

Mike Potter, SCC Open Space Authority Chair, Tony Alexander, UFCW Local 5, Dominic Caserta, Santa Clara City Council member, Corey Wolbach, Palo Alto City Council member

A host of elected leaders had a chance to enjoy a good time among friends and supporters, including County Supervisors Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese and Ken Yeager; San Jose Council member Ash Kalra, East Side Union High School District Board member Pattie Cortese, Sunnyvale City Council member Gustav Larssen, Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Member Gary Kremen, Santa Clara City Council member Dominic Caserta and Santa Clara Unified School District Board member Noelani Sallings, just to name a few.

The “Golden Bowling Pin” trophy for the highest score went to AFSCME Local 101, who also won the award for “Most Spirited Team.”  The prize for the Best Team Name went to AFSCME Local 1587 who came up with the double entendre ”Will Strike if Provoked.” 

AFSCME Local 101 members

AFSCME Local 101 members

AFSCME Local 1587 President Mark Murray

AFSCME Local 1587 President Mark Murray

Now Accepting Applications for the Trades Orientation Program


In an economy where good, family-supporting jobs are scarce and getting scarcer, the union construction industry offers one of the best opportunities to work hard and move up to the middle class.

Working Partnerships is spearheading the new Trades Orientation Program (TOP) in Silicon Valley aimed at opening up the pathway into building trades apprenticeships to youth, minorities, women, veterans, and anyone else who is ready, willing and able to embark on a construction career. The Santa Clara Building Trades Council, SBACA, work2future, NOVA and business and community partners have joined together to offer this unique opportunity.

The Trades Orientation Program is recruiting now for its Spring-Summer 2015 class, and we need your help to reach promising candidates!

Who are we looking for? Anyone who has a strong interest in learning how to enter a working construction apprenticeship leading to a rewarding career. For more information or to reserve a spot at an info session, visit www.wpusa.org/top and click on “Sign up here”. Info sessions will be held the week of March 30th.

Eligible applicants should be age 18 or over, live in Santa Clara County, have a high school diploma or GED, possess basic math skills, have reliable transportation, and be able and willing to do physical work. Youth (age 18+), women, U.S. military veterans, and underrepresented minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

If you know of anyone who might be interested, please pass this on! Interested applicants can sign up at www.wpusa.org/top.

We can also provide flyers for distribution or give presentations to interested groups. Please contact Louise Auerhahn at 408-809-2131 or lauerhahn@wpusa.org with any inquiries.

The Trades Orientation Program is supported in part by the Bay Area Regional Prosperity Plan, the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and by a grant to work2future of Prop. 39 pre-apprenticeship funding from the California Workforce Investment Board.



On Being of Service in Silicon Valley


Jon Swartz
USA Today

In a nation increasingly roiled by income inequality and social injustice, perhaps no region epitomizes the wrenching debate more than Silicon Valley.

While companies amassed billions in revenue and turned their leaders into household names during the latest tech boom, thousands of workers in the valley’s subcontracted workforce got squat.

Now, that is slowly changing.


— Google and Apple have brought security guards on staff rather than have outside firms employ them. This is a huge win for those workers who will now presumably get paid directly by the companies and receive the same benefits as other Apple and Google employees.

Facebook drivers joined the Teamsters union and now have a contract that guarantees them higher wages, better benefits and working conditions. These workers used to make $15 to $20 an hour in the pricey Bay Area; now they will make $21 to $29 an hour. They also have paid family health insurance, vacation, holidays, sick days, retirement and more.

— Some 120 drivers from Compass Transportation, which serves Apple, Yahoo and other tech giants, have joined the Teamsters. Now the union will negotiate a contract for them that will presumably provide comparable benefits to the Facebook contract.

What happened to reverse years of corporate intransigence?

Read the full story HERE.

Silicon Valley Rising Fights for Worker Justice

By Dave Johnson|
Campaign for America’s Future

Silicon Valley is an area of contrasts. When you stop at a traffic light in Silicon Valley you will often find a Maserati or Tesla on one side of you and a beaten up, 15-year-old Accord on the other. It seems there are more high-end Mercedes, Jaguars, Bentleys or the occasional Maybach than in other areas.

Silicon Valley companies, many run by stock-billionaires, pay a lot at the top, and squat at the bottom. There are the lucky employees, and a huge number of “contractors” – employees who are not called employees. The employees that reach over a certain age are discarded.

There are not a lot of people in the space between Silicon Valley’s top and its bottom. One in three Silicon Valley workers cannot even afford to live anywhere within a one-hour drive. The regular three-bedroom house costs a million dollars and don’t even ask about the rents (starting at more than $2,000 a month for a one bedroom apartment), but on the streets in working-class neighborhoods there are so many cars parked that you can barely pass – because there are so many people and families crammed into the housing. And, of course, the traffic is terrible, but you have to use a car because public transportation is cut back due to tax-dodging by giant companies like those in Silicon Valley. Continue reading

Apple to Hire Security Guards as Full-Time Employees as Organized Labor Gains Ground


Silicon Valley Business Journal

Apple Inc. will hire its contract security guards as full-time employees eligible for benefits, potentially creating leverage for organized labor at other Silicon Valley technology firms.

Apple is ending its contract with Security Industry Specialists to bring the security guards on board, said Ben Field of South Bay Labor Council. The story was first reported by the Mercury News.

“Apple recently completed a comprehensive, year-long review of its security program and we’ve decided to directly hire a number of key onsite security roles for Apple’s Silicon Valley operations which are currently contract positions,” Apple said in statement. “We will be hiring a large number of full-time people to handle our day-to day security needs. We hope that virtually all of these positions will be filled by employees from our current security vendor and we’re working closely with them on this process.”

Read the full story HERE.