Workers Memorial Day Breakfast Breaks Ground on Subcontracted Workers

motherjonesOn April 28 we recommit to the continuing struggle to create good jobs in Silicon Valley that protect the health and safety of workers and pay fair wages.  We recommit to ensure the freedom of workers to form unions and, through those unions, to speak out and bargain for respect and a secure future.

Forty years after Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, promising every worker the right to a safe job, there is still work to be done to protect workers on the job. Some employers cut corners and violate the law, putting workers in serious danger.  Workers who report job hazards or injuries, in some cases, are fired or disciplined.  Some employers who contract out dangerous work try to avoid responsibility and as a result, each year thousands of workers are killed and millions more injured or diseased as a result of their work.

In observance of Workers Memorial Day 2015, the South Bay Labor Council will host a breakfast discussion on the status of job safety among subcontracted workers.  Panelists will discuss current conditions, laws, and what we can all do to make jobs safer for temporary, or contracted workers in Silicon Valley.

To attend the breakfast discussion Tuesday, April 28 at 9 a.m., RSVP to  The event will be held at 2102 Almaden Road, San Jose.

Make an Impact on How Your Taxes Are Spent


The South Bay Labor Council encourages you to get involved in the decisions concerning  your tax dollars.  Throughout the month of May, the City of San Jose is holding community budget meetings in every City Council District. The purpose of these meetings is to inform residents about the City’s fiscal situation and potential budget impacts. They also provide an opportunity for residents to provide input on the budget directly to City leaders. 

San Jose residents are welcome to attend any of these meetings. Find the schedule HERE.

The “Fast Track” Bill For The Trans-Pacific Partnership Hit The Floor Of Congress Today, Labor Responds

 By NH Labor News  

It was only a matter of time until the multi-national corporations who helped fund the campaigns of many of the politician’s in Washington pushed for another trade agreement that will make them billions of dollars, and leave millions of American workers without a job.

Today the “Senate’s Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015” hit the Congressional floor. The deal was brokered by Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah), Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), and Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).

The New York Times spelled it out pretty well:

“It would give Congress the power to vote on the more encompassing 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership once it is completed, but would deny lawmakers the chance to amend what would be the largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994, which President Bill Clinton pushed through Congress despite opposition from labor and other Democratic constituencies.”

President Obama has already said he will oppose the unions — who help him win two elections — and his fellow democrats to get this trade agreement passed.


“At a time when workers all over the country are standing up for higher wages, Congress is considering legislation that will speed through corporate-driven trade deals,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “For decades, we’ve seen how fast-tracked trade deals devastated our communities through lost jobs and eroded public services. We can’t afford another bad deal that lowers wages and outsources jobs. That’s why Congress must reject Fast Track (TPA-2015) and maintain its constitutional authority and leverage to improve the TPP and other trade deals.” Continue reading

RIP Officer Michael Johnson

Officers from throughout California stream into SAP Center in San Jose for memorial service of SJPD Officer Michael Johnson

Officers from throughout California stream into SAP Center in San Jose for memorial service of SJPD Officer Michael Johnson

Thousands attended the memorial service at San Jose’s SAP Center in honor of fallen San Jose  Police Officer Michael Johnson, who was killed in the line of duty March 24.  38- year old Johnson, a 14 year police veteran,  and several other officers were answering a call involving a suicidal man with a high powered rifle.  Johnson was shot to death and died at the scene.  Johnson’s partner then shot and killed the gunman.

The South Bay Labor Council offers deepest sympathies to the family, both professional and personal, of Officer Johnson.



Rediscovering Cesar Chavez


by Randy Shaw
Beyond Chron

Today is Cesar Chavez Day. When California in 2000 became the first of eight states to declare March 31 as Cesar Chavez Day, the goal was to connect the honor with a curriculum that would educate students about Chavez. Yet fifteen years later, it is clear that young Californians know little about Cesar Chavez, and that those raised outside the West Coast and Southwest know even less.

Millions of Americans even think Barack Obama invented the “Yes We Can” rallying cry, unaware of its roots in the UFW’s “Si Se Puede.”(a listener to a Talk of the Nation show on NPR once told me that host Neal Conan also credited Obama with launching the slogan). One reason schools teach little about Chavez is that he led both a progressive social movement and a labor union – still controversial positions in many states and localities.Another is a reluctance to credit a Latino with greatly impacting the broader society.

I am often asked  what I thought were the three most important facts about Chavez’s legacy. Here’s what I say.

Chavez Demonstrated the Potential Success of National Grassroots Campaigns for Progressive Change

While discussion of Cesar Chavez understandably focuses on such personal actions as his fasts, marches, speeches, he also developed the modern blueprint for national grassroots movements. The UFW was the first nationwide campaign to actively unify students, clergy, women, and workers toward a common goal, and mounted the broadest progressive national grassroots campaign until Barack Obama’s Fall 2008 election effort over three decades later.

And unlike Obama, the UFW did not have hundreds of million of dollars. In fact, the UFW likely spent less in the entire decade leading up to the 1975 enactment of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act than the Obama presidential campaign incurred each week.

Cesar Chavez dared to accomplish what most thought impossible, demonstrating the potential of national grassroots campaigns to win against all odds. Understanding the UFW’s success should cause activists to think bigger about what’s possible.

Read the full story HERE.

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