Unions and community leaders kick off campaign for a Silicon Valley Living Wage

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Santa Clara County has taken the first step toward addressing economic inequality in the heart of Silicon Valley: Supervisors unanimously approved a motion directing the administration to develop a framework that would set a new standard of higher wages, healthcare security and a better standard of living for tens of thousands of low wage workers in Silicon Valley. Screengrab-unanimous-living-wage-vote If successful, the county ordinance would impact the tens of thousands of workers employed by businesses and organizations that serve as vendors, receive subsidies from the county or pay below market rents for county owned property. “As the primary provider of safety net services, the County has both a moral and a financial incentive to do what we can to promote fair pay for hard work,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Yeager, who along with Supervisor Dave Cortese co-authored the Board referral to study the ordinance. “Other living wage ordinances have improved the lives of workers at little or no cost to taxpayers. I want to engage local stakeholders to explore the options and implications of such an ordinance here.” Santa Clara County members of SEIU Local 521 joined other labor advocates, community based organizations and policy groups to put our Community First and support a comprehensive Silicon Vally Living Wage. Groupshot Prior to the vote, community leaders, residents and workers delivered testimony about how good, stable jobs can elevate the lives of workers and their families, and strengthen our communities. Speaker6 Salisina Simon (above), who works at Sonoma Chicken at the San Jose Airport and is a member of UNITE HERE Local 19, explained that earning a living wage has helped her family to stay in her home during the economic crisis and pay for her daughters college education. Sal Herrara Sal Herrara (above), a longtime resident of Santa Clara County, describe how his father moved from Mexico to work on a farm, but once he was able to get a good job and became a member of a local union, he was able to provide food, stability and opportunities for his children. “Because they were able to have that housing and food and medical care [our family now counts among us] school teachers, school principles, elected school board members, lawyers, high-tech paralegals and small business owners.” The proposal comes at a time of increasing public discourse about income inequality, when Silicon Valley has become ground zero for the growing disparity between haves and have-nots. Compensation for the lowest-paid employees has not kept pace with economic growth in the region. The cost of living in Santa Clara County has risen by 25% since 2008, and 30% of our residents now fall below the Self Sufficiency Standard. “When workers are exploited, it doesn’t just make them poorer, it affects their families, their neighbors and our entire community,” says Luisa Blue, Chief Elected Officer of SEIU Local 521 and a proponent of the ordinance. “It’s time to put our community first and adopt the Silicon Valley Living Wage.” SEIU Local 521 and other supporters of a Silicon Valley Living Wage will be campaigning throughout the summer and fall in to ensure that the final ordinance is as comprehensive and as impactful as possible before County Supervisors take a final vote later this year. For updates on the campaign for a Silicon Valley Living Wage, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @SVLivingWage.

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