Labor Day weekend is usually a time to celebrate working people, for us to enjoy and reflect on our important work, and to remember our hard-fought achievements. This year, however, takes on a different and more urgent tone. Labor Day is a call to action as much as it’s an earned day of rest. More than ever, the labor movement must unite during these unprecedented times to defend the rights of workers and deeply engage in the fight for racial justice.
We should not diminish the intersections between struggles for equity and justice and the plight and sacrifice of the worker. This shared experience is the foundation for a diverse and powerful union movement rooted in the fight for dignity for all.
COVID-19 has forever changed our lives and the way we do our jobs. Essential workers put their health at risk every day to move goods, provide health care, build affordable housing, and more. Unemployed members are struggling, many waiting for hours in a line of cars to pick up food for their families.
While we won’t be gathering in person this year as is our usual SBLC tradition, we are together in our shared belief that unions are the best vehicle for working people to secure a better life. To protect what the labor movement has worked so hard to gain, we must be united and organized as we prepare to win critical elections in November. We can’t be successful without you so please sign up for a volunteer shift. Together, we will make it through these challenging times and continue building union power in the South Bay.Read more
For Immediate Release
August 18, 2020
Contact: Ben Field
408 439-5511, firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTH BAY LABOR COUNCIL CHOOSES JEAN COHEN TO BE INTERIM EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Last night the South Bay Labor Council voted to hire Jean Cohen as Interim Executive Officer. Cohen is the Political Director of Plumbers Local 393 and the First Vice President of Labor Council. She previously served as the Political Director of the Alameda Labor Council.
Last month, after nine years as Executive Officer of the South Bay Labor Council, Ben Field, decided to resign, and the Labor Council began a process of finding a successor, deciding to quickly hire a well-qualified Interim Executive Officer to oversee labor’s upcoming election campaigns.
“The Labor Council’s primary focus during the next two and a half months will be our election campaigns and Jean is well equipped to manage those campaigns,” said Field, “With the help of Labor Council Political Director Dianna Zamora Marroquin, Jean and the Labor Council are poised to continue our record of campaign success.”
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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: