FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 11, 2015
Khanh Weinberg: 408.921.0098
Dianna Zamora Marroquin: 408.606.2060
Santa Clara County Extends Living Wage to 17,000 Public Workers
SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors today voted to provide the nation’s most comprehensive living wage to its 17,000 public employees, expanding the original ordinance passed in December covering for-profit contractors doing business with the county.
The board voted 4-0-1, with Supervisor Joe Simitian abstaining. As the second largest employer in the county, Santa Clara County is pushing forth a ground-breaking living wage policy that addresses:
• Fair compensation – an hourly wage of $19.06 that increases with cost of living, plus earned sick days and incentives for health and retirement coverage
• Fair workweek – ending abusive schedules that force workers into last-minute lives
• Opportunity for our diverse, local workforce – like former foster youth and formerly incarcerated workers
• Voice at work – so that workers aren’t scared to stand up for their rights
Santa Clara County’s living wage, championed by a diverse coalition of workers and community and faith leaders advocating for income and gender equity, is the first in the country to include fair workweek provisions, protecting workers from unpredictable work schedules that are a major cause of income instability and prevent them from planning child care, a second job or further education. The policy also aims to increase work hours for involuntary part-time workers – those who want full-time work. Their ranks have swelled by 65% in Santa Clara County over the last five years alone.
The county’s action on these issues places it at the forefront of a growing national movement for fair workweek, that includes cities such as San Francisco and federal legislation reintroduced in June. Last week, Minneapolis kicked off its campaign.
“Today’s vote by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to extend the Living Wage Ordinance protections to County employees demonstrates their commitment to setting the standard for employment in the Silicon Valley,” said Ben Field, Executive Director of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council. “By providing their workers with fair wages, healthcare security and a fair work week the County is establishing the employment practices that other responsible Valley employers should be willing to match.”
The Board’s action today builds on the comprehensive living wage ordinance it passed last December to help low-wage workers hired by county contractors reach economic dignity in Silicon Valley, co-authored by Supervisors Ken Yeager and Dave Cortese. The ordinance protects service workers paid through the $2.25 billion that the county spends every year on contracts whereas today’s vote commits the County to the same standards for its own workers when it sets personnel policy or negotiates contracts with its unions.
“I know so many workers and families who truly struggle day-to-day simply because they are not paid a living wage, or they go without pay when they fall ill, or have their work shifts change with no warning,” said Vinay Tatapudy, a Santa Clara County library worker.
“This is the right thing to do for county workers, and this is the right thing to do for all workers.”
The December ordinance applies to new contracts as of July 1, 2015, between Santa Clara County and for-profit entities.
“Santa Clara County may be the first to take this kind of comprehensive action for good jobs in Silicon Valley, but we know it won’t be the last,” said Derecka Mehrens, Executive Director of community organization Working Partnerships USA and leader in the Silicon Valley Rising campaign. “We see this as a model for the private sector, especially the tech industry.”
Today’s resolution will take effect for workers as soon as they next go to the bargaining table. It is the county’s intent “to include meeting these living wage standards as a county objective when collective bargaining agreements are open for negotiation,” according to the board report.
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The Service Employees International Union is an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society. For more information, visit www.seiu521.org