Everyone needs a place to live, a place to work and some way to get between the two. At the Partnership for Working Families, our network of powerful affiliates tackle the crises of income inequality and climate change that disproportionately impact low-income neighborhoods, communities of color and women.
That’s how many people’s lives we’ve improved in just two short years.
By pushing our cities to invest in community solar and public transit, increase recycling, reduce building energy consumption and improve water infrastructure, we are ensuring that our communities – including low-income workers and people of color – have a healthy, clean and vibrant place to raise their families. We are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring that the foundational infrastructure of our cities is resilient, serves all communities and creates good jobs.
In one year we reduced emissions the equivalent of taking
off the roads.
In our cities, we raised the minimum wage, secured paid sick days, worked to prevent wage theft and pushed city governments to require that companies they hire for big projects create good jobs and hire local workers. This work ensured community members could put food on the table for their families.
In one year we put
in the pockets of workers & created or improved
We influenced public and private investment to ensure widespread economic opportunity. When our cities considered major development projects, we made sure our governments created an open process and meaningful community engagement, that developers were held to a high standard and that the public’s investment created equitable and vibrant communities.
In one year we've influenced
to support strong vibrant communities
We work to make our cities more equitable as they grow and change. We expanded healthcare, affordable housing, access to vital services and community and civic engagement. We brought grassroots community voices to the forefront in public debates to shape how our cities grow.
In one year we expanded access to
public transit, community solar and healthcare to
The work of our network has already impacted so many people, but in order to reach our goal we plan on:
Engaging 800,000 “New American Majority” voters That means talking with women, youth and people of color to build power beyond elections and engage year-round on issues important to our communities.
Campaigning to raise wages for working people in cities and states including Washington, Colorado, California, Philadelphia and San Diego.
Fighting to end wage theft from Massachusetts to the farms of California.
Championing equitable economic development across our network of cities and in new places in the South.
Pushing cities to build a new clean economy through zero waste, lower energy consumption and smart transit choices.
As Los Angeles struggled with double-digit unemployment and to move away from dirty energy, our local affiliate LAANE helped spearhead RePower LA. The group formed to push for investment in energy efficient programs that would save customers money, create good jobs and career paths and help the nation's largest municipally owned utility move toward cleaner energy.
The group brought together small businesses, community groups, community members, environmentalists and labor. Together they are advocating for giving low-income communities and people of color greater access to community solar projects and have pushed to improve energy efficiency in existing buildings.
Due to their efforts, Los Angeles is now on track to reduce energy use by 15% by 2020 and 442 GWh by the end of this year. (That's the equivalent of taking more than 64,000 cars off the road or enough energy to power 400,000 homes!) Thanks to the coalition's advocacy, to date 20,000 homes, small businesses and schools have upgraded their energy efficiency. The coalition also advocated for the creation of IBEW Local 18's training program that is teaching hundreds of entry-level workers how to do energy efficiency upgrades while preparing them for utility careers.
In Philadelphia, the city required all contractors to make a minimum wage of $10.88, yet there were no requirements for subcontractors. Through this loophole, many of the 141,000 employees at Philadelphia International Airport made well below that, averaging just $7.85 an hour. Baggage handlers like Alfred Williams made just $7.25 an hour and struggled to cover bills.
Partnership for Working Families affiliate, Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (POWER), lobbied city council to put a sub-contractor minimum wage and benefits ordinance on the ballot.
It called for the minimum wage to increase to $12 an hour. After a strong campaign, the community voted overwhelmingly to approve it.
"Getting $12 made a huge difference in my life. I now have a cushion and don't have to worry day-to-day," Alfred said. "I appreciate all the support we got from the community to win the wage raise we fought so hard for."
Low-income communities of color are often forced to live in areas where industry not only spreads pollution, but dead end jobs. The West Oakland neighborhood, adjacent to the Port of Oakland, was no different. However, after Partnership for Working Families affiliate EBASE led its groundbreaking campaign, many local residents now have pathways to middle-class construction and logistics careers.
For more than a decade, a decommissioned army base sat vacant until the city proposed a logistics complex. EBASE formed Revive Oakland, a coalition of community, labor and faith organizations, which mobilized and won a landmark good jobs agreement with the city and the developer. The community won 3,000 living wage jobs for local and disadvantaged workers, and no screening for those with a criminal record. Since the project broke ground in 2013, it has consistently hit those targets.
A cornerstone of the agreement was also the creation of a Job Center where low-income, local residents – who are primarily African American – receive training and placement into apprenticeships to start them on the road to family-sustaining careers. Sadakao Whittington, a 41-year-old Bay Area native and Oakland resident, is one of those workers. He was incarcerated for robbery. Two months out of prison, he attended his first orientation at the West Oakland Job Resource Center, and it changed his life.
"Some might laugh, but I took a briefcase to the orientation, sat in front and took notes. I wanted to be taken seriously. The Center staff asked me, ‘Do you want to work?’ and they could see it in me that I was determined,” Sadakao said. “After being in prison for 15 years, I had never earned a decent living, but the Center hooked me up with an apprenticeship program, and now I’m doing construction and demolition work. I had nothing, but now I’m a positive reflection of the community. And when you have empowered enough of us, families are stronger, the community is improved and crime is lowered.”
"Before the buses I had to take cabs to go everywhere and it was very expensive. It was a huge barrier for me. Now that the buses are here, I can go back to work." – Elmenar Lord, Clayton County, GA resident
Located just South of Atlanta and the Hartsfield Jackson Airport, predominantly African American Clayton County has a shocking 25% poverty rate. In 2010 amidst the fall out of the recession, bus service to the area was eliminated. The already underserved community suffered as a result. With no reliable method of getting around, many residents lost their jobs and businesses or had to drop out of school.
Elmenar Lord, a 9-year resident of Riverdale in Clayton County, was forced to quit her job with the IRS in 2010 when her bus line stopped running. Without a car or license, Elmenar struggled to find work. She was forced to rely on government assistance programs like food stamps just to get by. Even performing small tasks like getting to the hospital for routine check ups or attending church became huge logistical challenges. Elmenar often missed appointments or paid for expensive taxi rides to get around.
Partnership for Working Families affiliate Georgia STAND-UP organized a coalition with Sierra Club, community and labor groups. The coalition pushed hard and passed a ballot initiative that called for a 1% increase in sales tax to support the largest-ever expansion for the MARTA transit system and got buses running out to Clayton County once again. The line now provides an estimated 1,200 trips a day.
Access to transit has provided important economic opportunities to people of color and low-income communities in Clayton County. Now, Elmenar is back at work as a part-time substitute teacher and is using the bus line daily.