Local Push Begins for the Most Comprehensive Living Wage Policy in America

March 19, 2013

Contact: karim.olaechea@seiu521.org
Media Line: 267-971-9716

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors could take the first step toward raising job standards for thousands of low wage workers in Silicon Valley, with the study of a comprehensive Living Wage proposal.  If a Board Referral is passed Tuesday, May 20 as expected, county staff will develop the framework for an ordinance that could set a new standard of higher wages, healthcare security, and a better standard of living for tens of thousands of County contract workers.

WHAT: Supervisors will vote whether to proceed with fiscal impact study for living wage ordinance.
WHO: The referral’s authors, Supervisors Ken Yeager and Dave Cortese, will be available for interviews. Public testimony in support of policy.
WHEN: Tuesday, May 20 at 9 a.m.
WHERE: Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 70 West Hedding Street, San Jose

The full text of the board referral : http://bit.ly/1iU4235

Supervisors Ken Yeager and Dave Cortese are leading the effort to study the idea. An ordinance would impact the tens of thousands of workers employed by the County itself and by businesses and organizations that serve as vendors, receive subsidies from the County or pay below market rents for County property.

Supporters including Working Partnerships USA, SEIU Local 521, the South Bay Labor Council, the San Jose Chapter of the NAACP, Sacred Heart Community Service, Silicon Valley De-Bug and others are advocating a Silicon Valley Living Wage that would be the most comprehensive ordinance of its kind in America; collecting “best practices” from some of the 120 other local jurisdictions that have already enacted Living Wage laws.

The proposal comes at a time of increasing public concern about income inequality, when Silicon Valley has become ground zero for the growing disparity between haves and have-nots. The cost of living in Santa Clara County has risen by 25% since 2008,[1] and 30% of our residents now fall below the Self Sufficiency Standard.[2]


Service Employees International Union, Local 521 represents 57,000 public- and nonprofit, private-sector workers in the central Bay Area region and in the Central Valley. Under a Community First vision, we are committed to making sure the needs of our community, and the vital services we provide our community, come first. We believe our communities thrive when residents, leaders and workers recognize that we are all in this together when it comes to our safety, health, and well-being. For more information about SEIU Local 521, visit www.seiu521.org.

[1] Calculated based on annual cost-of-living adjustments to San Jose’s Living Wage.  Accessed  14 May 2014 at http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/18804

[2] Insight Center for Community Economic Development. “Self-Sufficiency Standard for California 2014.” Accessed 9 May 2014 at http://www.insightcced.org/calculator.html.

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