For Immediate Release
Friday, October 9, 2015

Dianna Zamora Marroquin,(SBLC) 408-606-2061,
Mayra Flores De Marcotte, (SJSV Chamber) 408-314-7021,

SAN JOSÉ, CALIF., October 9, 2015 – At its meeting today, the Santa Clara County Housing Task Force unanimously passed a resolution (found here) declaring the problem of homelessness to be a crisis, and calling on cities within Santa Clara County to pursue several specific strategies to fund affordable housing.  The unanimous vote is a striking achievement given the diverse organizations represented on the Task Force.  Both of the Task Force Co-Chairs—Matt Mahood, President and CEO of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Ben Field, Executive Officer of the South Bay Labor Council—joined together to support the resolution.

“The problem of homelessness has reached crisis proportions,” said Mahood.  “People are living in our creeks, along our freeways, and on our sidewalks.  This is a problem not just for homeless individuals, but for our entire community.”

Field added: “The high cost of housing is a tremendous financial burden for working people in Silicon Valley and is the main barrier to homeless individuals seeking permanent housing.  Today’s resolution calls on local government leaders to take a number of specific, concrete actions to address this problem.”

The resolution listed potential strategies to fund affordable housing development, including development of surplus public land, zoning incentives, impact fees, a revenue ballot measure, and inclusionary zoning.  It called on all cities within the County to evaluate and consider these strategies.

Many of the funding proposals included in the resolution were based on work done by Housing Trust Silicon Valley.  Kevin Zwick, Chief Executive Officer of the Housing Trust, sits on the Housing Task Force and voted in favor of the resolution.  “Funding for affordable housing development declined significantly after the dissolution of redevelopment agencies in California,” Zwick said.  “Identifying new local funding sources is critical to providing enough affordable homes to meet demand.”

The resolution also highlights the costs of homelessness to public agencies.  It points to the 2015 Home Not Found study (found here) which estimated that the cost of providing services to homeless residents, including services in the health care and criminal justice systems, averaged $520 million per year over the six-year study period, or $3.1 billion over the entire period.  By providing permanent affordable housing and moving the homeless off the streets, these costs can be dramatically reduced.

By calling on all cities within the County to pursue affordable housing funding, the resolution highlights the need for coordinated regional action on the problem.  Jason Baker, who serves as the Vice-Mayor of the City of Campbell and as the President of the Cities Association of Santa Clara County, represents the Cities Association on the Housing Task Force.  “Our hope is that all cities within the County will adopt this resolution and commit to pursuing additional affordable housing funding,” Baker said.  “The Cities Association is an excellent forum for us to promote a coordinated approach to this issue.”

The resolution was drafted by San Jose City Councilmember Donald Rocha, who was appointed by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo to represent San Jose on the Housing Task Force.  Rocha commented: “Homelessness is a crisis both because of the great hardship our homeless residents suffer and because of the quality of life impacts it has on all of us who live in the County.  We need to take urgent action.”


About the Santa Clara County Housing Task Force

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors created the Housing Task Force in February of 2015 at the recommendation of Supervisor Dave Cortese. Its purpose is to identify solutions to the immediate housing needs of homeless families and individuals across Santa Clara County.

About the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce
The San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit business association representing nearly 1,500 employers and 250,000 employees throughout the greater Silicon Valley. Its mission is to create a strong local economy, provide premier business connections and visibility, represent the interests of business to government, promote the community and initiate political and community action.

About the South Bay Labor Council
The South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council represents 94 unions and over 100,000 union members in Santa Clara and San Benito counties. For over 50 years the Labor Council has championed the cause of working families in the South Bay.





Union Night with the San Jose Barracuda

Join the Barracuda for Opening Night of their Inaugural Season at the SAP Center in San Jose with this Special Offer for all union members. This exclusive offer includes a discounted ticket to the game and a Barracuda hat.

WHEN: October 9th, 2015 at 7:30 pm

WHERE: SAP Center at San Jose

To reserve your seats today please contact Andrew O’Connor at 408-977-4749 or


Don Edwards, Defender of Civil Liberties

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        Contact: Dianna Zamora Marroquin
September 2, 2014                                                                                      408.606.2061

America Mourns Loss of Civil Liberties Champion

The passing of former Congressman Don Edwards, a beloved friend and champion of equality, will leave a void in the lives of all who knew him.  Don dedicated his life to defending the rights of his fellow Americans both during his time as an intelligence officer in the Navy and throughout his tenure in Congress.

Don was a crusader for civil liberties and a true example of what one man with a steadfast moral compass can accomplish. He was a giant in the civil rights movement, fighting tirelessly for fundamental human rights, freedom from discrimination, and the fair treatment of women.  As the Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights for 23 years, he was not an unfamiliar face in the South. He spend countless hours marching, speaking and organizing to defend the Constitutional rights of all Americans. He was a key player in passing the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965, which opened the doors for many ostracized segments of the population to vote.

“I have often thought about Mr. Edwards and the example he set for me,” said Ben Field, Executive Officer of the South Bay Labor Council, who worked for Edwards from 1986-1988. “He helped win major progressive victories, yet his example often shined through routine events. Mr. Edwards was attentive, respectful, and gracious.  He had the ability to change the tone of a conversation, something that few politicians can manage. I will miss Mr. Edwards, but I will not forget all the lessons, big and small, that he taught me.”

Edwards, who has undeniably changed the course of American history, once said, “When I came to Congress, we didn’t have any civil rights to speak of that were worth anything.”  Today, we remember a man whose fierce desire to fight for justice and equality gave many people who were once marginalized, hope and opportunity.



Silicon Valley Leaders are Called to Disrupt Inequality

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             Contact: Dianna Zamora Marroquin
September 22, 2015                                                                       408.606-2060

SANTA CLARA – Pope Francis is traveling the world to bring his message on income inequality, workers’ rights, migrant rights and overall economic justice.  Community, faith and labor groups are honoring Pope Francis’s arrival to the United States with a call to disrupt inequality.

Today,  Silicon Valley Rising, UNITE HERE and SEIU-USWW came together to demonstrate their support for the workers at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara and Citrix who are fighting for quality jobs and fair treatment at the workplace. For seven years employees at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara have been fighting for a fair process to organize. Citrix contracts their Security Officers from Universal Protection Service (UPS). UPS is one of the largest security contractors in the country, yet they provide low paying, part-time jobs that make economic instability a daily concern for their workers.

“It is shameful that multi-million dollar companies like Hyatt and UPS pay their employees poverty wages and deny them a voice on the job,” said Ben Field, Executive Officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council. “Income inequality is a serious and growing problem for families in Silicon Valley and the action by Silicon Valley Rising, UNITE HERE and SEIU-USWW shows hard working individuals that we will continue to fight on their behalf for economic justice.”

“UPS continues to move me from site to site. Because my pay fluctuates between $12 and $15 an hour, I have trouble paying rent from month to month. My children and I are currently sharing one bedroom in an apartment with another family,” said Anai Garcia, Security Officer with Universal Protection Service (UPS).

“Suppressing workers’ voices disproportionately hurts Latinos, African Americans and women, most of whom make up the security guards, janitors and food service workers being denied their fundamental workplace rights,” said Derecka Mehrens, Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA. “Further marginalizing these groups creates a larger rift in the vast economic segregation these workers face.”

“The faith community takes its role in the fight against income inequality seriously. As people of faith, we are morally obligated to help those who are vulnerable, oppressed and voiceless,” said Father Jon Pedigo. “Hyatt and UPS should consider the impact that such low wages have on their workers’ families. It is unconscionable to deny those families just compensation.”

Silicon Valley Rising (SVR) is an unprecedented group of faith, labor and community leaders, led by the South Bay Labor Council and Working Partnerships USA, which has made corporate responsibility a priority. SVR and its partners have been at the forefront of highlighting this issue, gaining support from both the public and elected officials.



San Jose Calls for Minimum Wage Study to Raise the Wage to $15

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                   Contact: Maria Noel Fernandez
September 15, 2015                                                                             408-506-5875

SAN JOSE- Today, the San Jose City Council voted to approve a study on the impact an increased minimum wage to at least $15 would have on the City and formally expressed their commitment to be a part of the regional minimum wage effort.  In addition, the Council approved a memo introduced by Councilmembers Kalra, Peralez, Rocha, and T. Nguyen to include full consideration of the potential positive effects of raising the wage, ensure the adoption of a minimum wage increase with no exemptions remain a viable option, and include language that specifically states that there is no predetermined policy outcome in advance of the completion of the study.

“As the regional effort to increase the minimum wage continues to gain momentum, we are pleased that San Jose is addressing the issue and taking much-needed steps to raise the floor for its low wage workers. An accurate and comprehensive assessment of the benefits and consequences of a possible increase must be conducted in order to move forward with raising the wage,” said Ben Field, Executive Officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council. “Silicon Valley Rising has been leading the way in increasing the wage throughout our region and today’s action by the City Council gives families in San Jose the hope that they will not be left behind.”

Silicon Valley Rising and its coalition of community, faith and labor leaders have been actively engaged in raising the minimum wage throughout Silicon Valley. Their efforts, and those of their partners, have resulted in Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Santa Clara raising their minimum wage and committing to Silicon Valley Rising’s goal of achieving a regional wage of $15 an hour.

“Today’s vote by the City Council shows that Silicon Valley Rising’s efforts to regionally raise the wage continue to motivate local cities to take care of their low wage workers,” said Derecka Mehrens, Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA. “The study will help us better understand the impacts, both positive and negative, to families being considered for exclusion and give us the information we need to increase the salary of every minimum wage earner in the region.”

“It is critical that we raise the minimum wage for all of the Valley’s workers. With the cost of living continuing to skyrocket, low wage workers are constantly struggling to pay rent, purchase groceries, or buy clothes. San Jose must give its workers the opportunity to earn a salary that lets them live quality lives and support their families,” said Chava Bustamante of Latinos United for A New America.


Sal Ventura: Labor movement is adapting to new realities

By Sal Ventura
Special to the Mercury News

On Labor Day we recognize the contributions organized labor has made to our society. Workplace rights that are considered basic today were fought for and won by unions. The minimum wage, eight-hour workday, prohibitions on child labor exploitation, worker safety protections and the right to organize are just a few of the victories workers achieved through union activism.

Today organized labor continues to fight for working families while at the same time building the middle class and promoting the economic health of our nation.

Yet despite our successes, organized labor faces an existential crisis today.

Union membership has dropped dramatically in many states. As a result, there is no organization left to represent working families and fight for the American dream in large parts of the country.

Even in Silicon Valley, where our labor movement wins significant victories such as the Children’s Health Initiative, the San Jose minimum wage and the living wage in San Jose and Santa Clara County, working families are hurting. One-third of the households in this county do not earn enough to be self-sufficient, and many live below the poverty line.

Organized labor needs to change. If we are going to continue to raise the floor for working families, we must innovate, and that is exactly what we are doing here in Silicon Valley.

Labor needs to adopt new approaches to organizing. We have learned that we must collaborate with like-minded community groups, and so we have joined with a wide range of neighborhood, civil rights and poverty relief activists, and faith leaders to launch a campaign called Silicon Valley Rising.

It has three primary goals:

  • To advance policies that raise wages and benefits for the working poor,
  • To create and preserve affordable housing, and
  • To hold high-tech companies accountable for the treatment of all their employees, including their contract workers.

Already Silicon Valley Rising has seen significant progress. The coalition has won minimum wage increases around the South Bay, persuaded several cities to set a goal of a $15 wage by 2018, and now has secured the San Jose City Council’s commitment to collaborate with us on a $15 wage in San Jose and regionally.

Policies to protect renters, such as a proposed ordinance to ban arbitrary and unfair evictions in San Jose, are a direct result of the work being done by Silicon Valley Rising. In addition, tech companies have responded to our protests against the unfair treatment of their contract workers by dumping low-road contractors and allowing some workers to decide without intimidation whether to join a union.

We in the Silicon Valley labor movement understand that our efforts must benefit all working families in the South Bay, not just union members. And our partners in Silicon Valley Rising recognize that organized labor is critical to a collaborative strategy that benefits the entire community.

Together we are taking the moral high road, calling for a more equitable economy, access to decent housing and corporate responsibility from our high-tech neighbors who are reaping vast profits by doing business here.

Our collaborative organizing approach is a model that can and must be replicated elsewhere. The labor movement needs to adapt to its changing environment if it is to continue to win victories for all workers.

The success of Silicon Valley Rising demonstrates that by uniting our voices and working as one, organized labor and our partners can continue to help working families achieved the American dream.

Sal Ventura is president of the South Bay Labor Council executive board and assistant business manager of IBEW Local 332. He wrote this for this newspaper.


Renters’ Rights Get Renewed Life

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             Contact: Dianna Zamora Marroquin
September 1, 2015                                                                         408.606-2060

Today, the San Jose City Council voted to advance a proposal to strengthen San Jose’s rent control ordinance and ban unjust evictions.  The Council’s action makes San Jose the largest city in the Bay Area to consider rent stabilization, an important step for a city whose average rent has increased 54% over the last five years.

“Silicon Valley is in the midst of a devastating housing crisis that is displacing families and forcing many into homelessness,” said Ben Field, Executive Officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council.  “That is why a coalition of labor, community organizations and faith leaders called Silicon Valley Rising, has pushed for the reforms the City Council advanced today.  Today’s Council action is a significant step toward preserving affordable rental housing.”

Silicon Valley Rising (SVR) is an unprecedented group of faith, labor and community leaders, led by the South Bay Labor Council and Working Partnerships USA, which has made the creation and preservation of affordable housing a priority. SVR and the Silicon Valley Renters Coalition have been at the forefront of highlighting this issue, gaining support from both the public and elected officials.

“Housing inequity is a serious issue plaguing the Silicon Valley and workers are being systematically priced out of the city. They find themselves having to travel long distances to get to work, live with other families to make the rent, or reside in substandard housing,” said Derecka Mehrens, Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA. “We are proud of the work we have done in conjunction with Silicon Valley Rising and stand ready to collaborate with the City as we continue to tackle this problem head-on.”

“Today’s leadership by the San Jose City Council is an important step in developing solutions to help Valley residents who are struggling to pay their rent,” said Sandy Perry, of the Affordable Housing Network. “Resolving the region’s housing uncertainty, which is a humanitarian issue, is extremely important not only for tenants, but our entire community.”




Ruling on Newby Island Workers’ Case Ripples into Tech Industry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                          Contact: Dianna Zamora Marroquin
August 27, 2015                                                                                             408.606-2060

Today, Silicon Valley’s contracted workers achieved a victory of national proportions with the “joint employer” ruling handed down by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). What started as contracted workers in a Milpitas, California waste plant fighting against abuse has resulted in a historic ruling that will dramatically alter contract employment. Today’s decision makes it illegal for companies to shift the responsibility for their workforce to contractors, holding them accountable for the wages and working conditions of their temporary or contracted employees.

In 2013, Teamsters Local 350 brought this Newby Island case to light by filing a suit against Browning-Ferris Industries, part of Republic Services, the country’s second largest waste management company. Among other things, Republic used a temp agency to attempt to dodge the living wage ordinance in San Jose, shortchanging 193 waste sorting workers $2.6 million and counting.

“This new standard will give workers who are often denied their basic rights and forced to work in deplorable conditions a voice. Companies will now find it much harder to use subcontracting as a primary tool to drive down wages, drive inequality up and shut down worker organizing,” said Ben Field, Executive Officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council.  “It is high time that these multi-million dollar companies be held accountable for the conditions of their workers.”

The ruling gives momentum to the organizing happening in Silicon Valley and across the country. The NLRB decision comes less than a week after Google Express employees, who are temp workers with Adecco, voted to join The Teamsters. Now millions of contract workers, many of whom provide services in the local tech industry, can take their concerns right to the doorstep of tech companies when they bargain for better pay, benefits and working conditions.

“This ruling has major implications for the tech industry. The security officers, janitors, shuttle drivers, cafeteria workers, and landscapers – tech’s Black and Latino workforce-are mostly temps or subcontracted. Now big companies like Google, Apple and Facebook are responsible for making sure those are good jobs with fair wages. No more hiding,” said Derecka Mehrens, Executive Director, Working Partnerships USA and leader in the Silicon Valley Rising coalition.

“This decision will provide justice to workers who have been tirelessly fighting for fairness in the workplace,” said Larry Daugherty, principal officer of Teamsters Local 350. “We are proud to have supported and stood by these workers who wanted to have the right to organize without fear of retaliation. With today’s announcement, workers are better equipped to improve their workplace treatment and earn a fair wage with benefits.”

“The National Labor Relations Board’s decision has dramatically leveled the playing field for our fast food workers,” said Luisa Blue, SEIU 521 Chief Elected Officer. “These incredibly hard working individuals do not deserve to receive substandard treatment from fast food corporations simply because they are at a franchise. All employees deserve to work in safe conditions, receive just compensation, and be treated with dignity.”

The NLRB’s ruling is widely expected to permanently change the landscape for contracted workers.  No longer can an employer use a contracting company to circumvent the law and subject its employees to substandard treatment and unfair wages. Temp and contracted employees can have a seat at the table that has been denied to them for decades.


Labor in the Pulpit icon

Labor in the Pulpit

17 years ago, the Labor in the Pulpit program was launched in Silicon Valley as part of a national movement to celebrate the historic partnership between the labor and faith communities. Throughout the history of the workers’ rights movement—the fights for the eight-hour workday, weekends, benefits, and much more—many in the faith community have felt a moral duty to stand in solidarity on picket lines, at rallies, and to engage in the efforts to help everyone live with dignity and respect. Labor in the Pulpit is our opportunity to celebrate that partnership by bringing the faith and labor communities together. It’s a time to reflect on the progress we have made, and the work that has yet to be done. While the specifics of the fight may have changed due to the groundwork laid by our predecessors, the issues are still the same: living wages, work-life balance, securing benefits, and creating quality, middle-class jobs. Labor in the Pulpit is a time to highlight that we are successful when labor and faith work together and recommit ourselves to the fight for equity, dignity and justice.

Please contact Jessica Vollmer at (408) 809-2130 or if you would like to volunteer to speak at a service; help with delivery and pick up of materials; help with data entry; or any other role you feel called to do to help make this year another success.

AADP drive picture 2

AADP Bone Marrow Drive

The Asian American Donor Program (AADP) is hosting a Bone Marrow Drive on Thursday, August 27, 2015 from 11am-3pm in front of  the State Alquist Building on 100 Paseo De San Antonio Walk.

AADP is looking for donors between 18-44 years of age and registration only takes 5 minutes. Donors will fill out a form, provide a cheek swab sample and be placed on a registry data base for a potential match.

Ethnic minorities are highly encouraged to register. Everyone who meets the guidelines is welcome to join.