In less than a year, San Jose resident Lisa Rhodes went from living in a halfway house on probation to starting a new career at one of the biggest, most cutting-edge construction projects in Silicon Valley. Through a coalition program of affiliate Working Partnerships USA, Lisa was introduced to various apprenticeship opportunities. She applied and was accepted to the Cement Masons program, where she started working on the new Apple headquarters “spaceship” campus. Now she has health care and a pension and earns time off and overtime.
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Four years ago, affiliate EBASE led its Revive Oakland coalition to a landmark victory. When the city decided to redevelop the Oakland Army Base that had sat abandoned for more than a decade, Revive Oakland mobilized the community to ensure that local residents would benefit. Under the Good Jobs Agreement, the coalition won guarantees that project employers would hire local and disadvantaged residents, as well as provide them with pathways to long-term construction careers through apprenticeship programs and long-term warehouse jobs operating the site. But the fight did not end there.
More than 12,000 drivers serve ports in the Los Angeles area. They do the vital work of moving imported goods from the most important port complex in the nation to rail yards and warehouses. Yet, because these workers have been misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees, they lack basic protections such as a minimum wage, workers’ compensation, disability and unemployment insurance.
Partnership for Working Families affiliate CAUSE is organizing farmworkers in California’s Central Coast to raise working standards through a county-level policy called the Farmworker Bill of Rights. While efforts to leverage the power of cities to advance minimum wage increases, sick and family leave, fair scheduling and wage theft enforcement have been concentrated in urban metros, CAUSE is expanding this fight to rural communities.
Uber has faced a great deal of criticism over the treatment of its drivers, whom the company considers independent contractors. It is currently facing a class-action lawsuit over drivers’ employment status in California and Massachusetts. On June 2nd, the court will decide whether to honor a proposed $100M settlement. Among the changes outlined in the agreement, Uber would commit to recognizing a drivers’ association.
Affiliate OCCORD has been helping Orange County residents through the naturalization process for more than seven years, but 2016 has truly highlighted the importance and strength of the citizenship program.
Last weekend, New York City private sanitation workers traveled to Los Angeles to meet with that city's private sanitation workers. At the meeting, hosted by Partnership for Working Families and the LA Alliance for a New Economy, the two groups of workers discussed their experience building worker power and improving work conditions.
PWF affiliate Puget Sound Sage is helping build a just climate movement in Seattle, while ensuring those most likely to suffer the consequences of climate change lead the way. This philosophy has informed an aggressive policy agenda.
In Philadelphia, Partnership for Working Families affiliate POWER: An Interfaith Movement joined forces with Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) in its Local Green Jobs campaign. The coalition is calling on the largest local utility, PECO, to purchase solar power from underserved North Philadelphia’s rooftops. “Environmental justice means an economy that works for everyone,” said Rabbi Julie Greenberg of POWER. “We need to create jobs where they are most needed and keep our energy dollars circulating locally.”
Transform Don’t Trash NYC, the campaign to clean up New York City’s dirty commercial sanitation industry, is picking up steam. The coalition of environmental justice, worker organizations and community groups (including PWF affiliate ALIGN) has been working for three years to expose problems in the industry and push a transformative vision of change. With City Hall recently taking the first steps toward addressing the issue, real change toward a cleaner, safer waste and recycling system may be just around the corner.