FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAN JOSE, CA – Today, the San Jose City Council voted to place the Opportunity to Work Initiative on the November 2016 ballot. Dozens of hourly San Jose workers were joined by business, community, religious and labor leaders, and public policy experts at City Hall to testify as to how the passage of this measure would impact their lives. This is the first initiative of its kind, aimed at providing part-time employees across all industries access to the work hours needed for a reliable, livable paycheck.
“Surviving as a part-time fast food worker in Silicon Valley is virtually impossible. In the past year, my work hours have been cut by one third, with those hours going to new part-time employees that are being hired. My schedule is unpredictable, making it impossible to get another job and support my family,” said Maria Najera, a 66 year old grandmother who has worked in the fast food industry for 20 years. “My daughter, a mother of two, has multiple jobs and is going to school to better herself. We all live together and have to work so that we can make ends meet, yet we still struggle. Having access to more work hours would change our lives. We would be able to meet our basic needs, provide for the children and not have to worry about where our next meal is coming from.”
A report released in April of this year exposed the widespread crisis of underemployment in San Jose. To help combat the problem locally, Opportunity to Work would require large employers with additional work hours available to offer those hours to current, qualified part-time workers before hiring new staff. It is estimated that this measure would impact 64,000 hourly employees in the City of San Jose.
“The Opportunity to Work initiative is commonsense public policy that is good for both the economy and the working families of San Jose,” said Reginald Swilley, Partner at the Minority Business Consortium. “Fair business practices that give employees the chance to earn enough to support their families, pay for their basic necessities and invest in our local economy are key to ensuring that San Jose’s businesses flourish. Opportunity to Work is vital in providing our part-time workforce with access to the hours they need to improve their living conditions and stay in our community.”
“As employers continue to shift to a part-time workforce, women and people of color, who make up the majority of the hourly workforce, are being disproportionately hurt by the lack of access to work hours. These individuals struggle because they receive lower pay, have lower rates of health insurance, and less access to promotions and career advancement,” said Angelica Ramos, President of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Silicon Valley. “Opportunity to Work will give those workers the chance to work additional hours so that they can better support their families, pay their rent and put food on the table.”
Support for Opportunity to Work is strong among likely San Jose voters, as evidenced by a memo released by EMC Research last month. The memo found that more than three-quarters of San Jose voters support the provisions of the initiative, a level of support well above the majority needed for passage.