San Jose Coalition Launches “Opportunity to Work” Initiative

by Dianna Zamora Marroquin on January 26, 2016

San Jose community, religious and labor leaders  submitted a ballot measure on January 25 requiring employers to offer qualified part- time employees the opportunity to work additional hours before hiring new part-time or temporary employees.

“Every day I see how my parishioners struggle to make ends meet because they do not have access to sufficient work hours. This initiative would help these workers support their families by getting enough hours so that their paychecks cover their bills and they can put food on the table,” stated Fr. Jon Pedigo.

“We are seeing so many parents working hard, willing to do whatever they can to support their families, but most part-time workers are unable to cover their most basic needs, such as food and rent, said Poncho Guevara, Executive Director of Sacred Heart Community Service. “When part-time workers are denied hours, they are pushed further into poverty, making it impossible for them to support their families without the safety net we provide. They want to work. The ‘Opportunity to Work Initiative’ would help many of the families that we serve by giving them the chance to work more hours and hopefully achieve economic stability.”

“The majority of individuals working part-time jobs are people of color. As such, they are disproportionately impacted by the lack of hours, low wages and non-existent benefits, said Chava Bustamante, Executive Director of Latinos United for a New America. Every day that workers are denied hours and benefits, the well-being of their families is at risk. The “Opportunity to Work Initiative’ is an important step in raising up our hard-working minority families and providing access to work they desperately need to survive. 

The measure will help workers get access to available work hours so their paychecks cover the bills and put food on the table.  It will help prevent employers from hiring new part-time workers instead of giving more hours to current employees simply to avoid paying health insurance or other benefits.  And it will ensure that women who are qualified hourly workers, yet statistically receive fewer hours than their male counterparts, have access to more work.

Underemployment is a crisis in Silicon Valley and is placing working families in devastating financial instability.  Employees want to work more, but without access to more work hours, their ability to support their loved ones is limited.

The Opportunity to Work Initiative is a major step toward ensuring that the working families in Silicon Valley earn enough to not only meet their basic needs, but thrive.

Filed under: Bay Area / California