Council Vote Undercuts Workers’ Rights, Denies Opportunities to Disadvantaged Workers

Tuesday evening, after more than five hours of public testimony and debate, six members of the San Jose City Council voted to undercut workers’ rights and deny career opportunity to local foster youth, veterans, low-wage workers and other hard-working community members.

The 6-5 vote eliminated the possibility of implementing a Community Workforce Agreement policy for public, City-funded construction projects. While giving lip service to the idea of compromise, Mayor Liccardo and Councilmembers Nguyen, Davis, Khamis, Diep, and Jones proposed a policy that was already known to be impossible to implement, ensuring that the City would not have a CWA policy on projects of any size.

The vote was a huge disappointment to the hundreds of workers and community members who attended the meeting. Foster youth spoke about their search for opportunity, the challenges they face when getting into a career is based on “who you know”, and how much it would mean for young people to have the chance to get their start as an apprentice on a public works project. Construction trades apprentices talked about the life-changing experience of being accepted into an apprenticeship and given the opportunity to learn a skilled trade after facing discrimination and closed doors elsewhere. Experienced workers talked about the decades of training and skill they invest in their work, only to be pushed off the jobs and out of the city by companies who refused to hire local workers and pay them fairly. Minority-owned businesses spoke about the need for a level playing field so they can fairly compete against the insiders who know how to lowball their bids by cutting corners and exploiting workers.

On the other side, business lobbyists defended the absolute right of owners to use public construction dollars to hire only their own people, ship in out-of-town workers in order to exploit them, refuse to support training for entry-level jobs, and avoid oversight, excluding most local community members from even having a chance to apply for work on those public projects.

In the end, six Council members were influenced by highly-paid lobbyists to vote for big business, cronyism, and favoritism rather than a fair hiring process with worker protections and opportunities for disadvantaged workers to get the first step onto a career ladder.

Working people and marginalized communities in San Jose will remember how the Mayor and five Council Members voted, and the choice they made to put the interests of the wealthy and powerful above the needs of San Jose’s residents and taxpayers.

No Comments

Leave a Comment