After nine years as the Executive Officer of the South Bay Labor Council, Ben Field has decided to resign. “Ben has been essential in every significant effort to improve the lives of working families in Silicon Valley for the last decade,” said Labor Council Board President Sal Ventura, “he will be sorely missed.”
Under Field’s leadership, the Labor Council and its community allies achieved a number of important victories, including:
- A minimum wage increase that raised earnings for 250,000 San Jose workers and became a model for reform in cities across the country;
- The Opportunity to Work initiative that provided fair scheduling rights to 65,000 San Jose workers;
- A $950 million bond primarily for homeless housing;
- The creation of the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, which will help ensure that employers comply with worker protections;
- The most comprehensive Living Wage policy in the country at Santa Clara County;
- Just cause eviction protections for tenants; and
- A variety of wage theft, local hire and worker retention policies in cities across the County.
Under Field’s leadership the Labor Council also helped elect numerous progressive champions to state and local offices.
“Thousands and thousands of working families are better off today because of Ben’s vision, leadership and hard work,” said Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez, who also preceded Field as head of the Labor Council, “Without Ben we would not have had the minimum wage increase, the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, the Opportunity to Work initiative or any number of other systemic changes that benefit working families.”
Under Field’s leadership the Labor Council cofounded with Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA) a community coalition called Silicon Valley Rising, which has helped to organize 8,000 low wage workers at tech companies. “Ben has helped give workers a voice and improved their standards of living,” said Derecka Mehrens, Executive Director of WPUSA, “His work to address the racial and income inequities of Silicon Valley has been invaluable.”
“I very much appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the causes of social and economic justice, which are deeply meaningful to me,” said Field.Read more
San Jose City Council Puts Measure on Ballot that Contains Elements of the Fair Elections Initiative
Last week the San Jose City Council voted to place a measure on the November ballot that includes provisions similar to the community-led Fair Elections Initiative, which would move the mayoral election to presidential years and limit campaign contributions. The Council-approved measure would: 1. Move the mayoral election to presidential years by giving Mayor Sam Liccardo a two year term extension; 2. Institute campaign contribution reforms; and 3. Give the Mayor the ability to hire and fire the City Manager and fire department heads, subject to an overriding vote by the City Council. The City Council will approve the language of the measure during a special meeting July 28.
"The Fair Elections Initiative campaign has been ongoing since last July and could not have been possible without robust community-led organizing efforts. We want to thank everyone who shared the goal of strengthening our democracy and supported the Initiative," said Ben Field, Executive Officer of the South Bay Labor Council.
Our hearts are heavy with grief and rage at the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many senseless killings we have seen over our lifetime. We always must name and condemn the white supremacy and anti-Black racism that permeates our society, but especially now that we are suffering from a deadly pandemic that disproportionately impacts poor communities of color.
As the labor movement in the South Bay, we stand in solidarity with George Floyd’s family, Black communities and organizers in Minnesota and around the country who demand justice in his name. Locally, we stand in solidarity with San Jose Silicon Valley NAACP in seeking justice for the murder of George Floyd.
These are tumultuous times but we must remember the lessons and values we hold as a labor movement. On January 1962, Martin Luther King’s letter to the Amalgamated Laundry Workers stated:
"As I have said many times, and believe with all my heart, the coalition that can have the greatest impact in the struggle for human dignity here in America is that of the Negro and the forces of labor, because their fortunes are so closely intertwined.”
Our fortunes are intertwined and we must and will continue to fight for reforms in policing. We must address issues of racial and economic inequality in all its forms. We must dismantle the systems of oppression that pit us against each other. We must love each other and support each other.
Now more than ever, our work towards racial and economic justice continues.
Please read the statements of solidarity and support for Black Lives from South Bay Labor Council affiliates:
To the Guild,
The community of San Jose and Santa Clara prides itself on being a community that welcomes a diversity of thought and opinion. San Jose has always been on the cutting edge of technology and public policy. We were one of the first cities to welcome the sale of legal cannabis, first under the guidelines of Prop. 215 with regard to medical and then after Proposition 64 with legal adult use. We are also a city that welcomes the participation of labor unions and workers rights. We are disappointed to hear that “The Guild” and its’ management has continually refused to acknowledge the choice of its workers when they decided to organize with UFCW 5.
We the undersigned strongly urge “The Guild” management to abide by the order of the National Labor Relations Board and come to the table and negotiate a fair contract. Now more than ever UFCW Local 5 members working at “The Guild” need to have a voice in the workplace, access to health care and benefits, and fair pay for fair work. Cannabis workers’ voices should be heard and protected and companies such as yours need to stop delaying the inevitable and respect the choice of your workers.
Our hope has always been the cannabis industry could behave differently when it comes to workers’ rights and their decision to join unions. Unions make business better and they make our communities stronger. By refusing to negotiate and bargain, despite multiple orders to recognize the workers rights, The Guild is displaying a disregard for the law and choice of their workers. This is not how San Jose does business.
We urge you to begin bargaining with UFCW Local 5 immediately and stop the delay. Live up to the San Jose standard.
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As you know, the COVID-19 crisis has devastated workers in every industry across the nation. The labor movement has made it clear that we need a new deal that makes a real difference in improving workers’ lives during this pandemic and beyond. As the crisis grows, California’s unions are demanding workers are protected.
To center workers in the response to COVID-19 and the long road to economic recovery ahead, we’ve created a list of demands called the Workers’ Bill of Rights so that working people won’t be left behind without an income, without a home and without basic protections. We need to make it clear that federal and state lawmakers can’t abandon ANY workers in this time of overwhelming need.
We’re asking that you take action and demand we implement a Workers’ Bill of Rights during the COVID-19 crisis today: Sign the petition here
To amplify the Workers’ Bill of Rights, we’re asking that you share the petition with your members and allies and post on your social media platforms. We’ve developed a social media toolkit with sample tweets and Facebook posts that we’re hoping you can use to get the word out. Access the toolkit here.
We’ll be using the hashtag #WorkersFirst. Please tweet the petition as often as you can on Wednesday and keep the drum up online the following days as well to ensure our demands are heard. If you have any questions on the bill of rights and messaging, please contact Steve Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org. And for questions on social media, contact me, Alex Catsoulis email@example.com
Visit the California Labor Federation website for Outbreak Resources and Information for WorkersRead more