Click here for West/Southwest IAF Key Victories in 2018

COPS/Metro Gets Workforce Development Measure on November Ballot

[Excerpt]

Voters will be asked to approve a 1/8-cent sales tax to fund job training and college degrees for San Antonians who lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The money also would help participants pay rent and other living expenses while they complete those programs.

The sales tax revenue would be dedicated to those purposes for four years....

“Today, San Antonians need this investment more than ever,” Virginia Mata, a leader of the grassroots coalition COPS/Metro told council members Thursday. “It is not only the right thing to do but also the right investment. The seeds that you plant today will have a lasting effect and will help San Antonians rise from the shadows to the light.”

[Photo Credit: Billy Calzada, San Antonio Express-News]

'We Need Action Now': Sales Tax Proposal for San Antonio Economic Recovery Now in Voters' Hands, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]

With Workforce Measure on Ballot, Project Quest Ready to Help Mend Economic Wounds, Rivard Report [pdf]

 

Valley Interfaith Project Calls for Testing Blitz in Arizona Prisons

With 50% of prisoners testing positive for COVID-10 in one prison alone, and after several conversations with the Governor, DOC Director and Director of Health Services, Valley Interfaith Project leaders are calling for rapid testing of prisoners across Arizona.

"Your current testing plan for the state’s prisons, which just commenced, is too drawn out," Valley Interfaith Project leaders said in a letter to Shinn on Wednesday. "The rapid spread of the virus and the still ongoing unevenness of response by your Department will lead to more loss of life without drastic and immediate interventions."

After COVID-19 Cases Spike in Tucson Prison Unit, Advocates Demand Action to Spare Inmates, AZ Central [pdf]

Arizona Prison Stories, Valley Interfaith Project


COPS/Metro Calls for Sustained Investment in Workforce Development as Path to Post-Covid Economic Improvement

[Excerpt]

Since the onset of the pandemic, COPS/Metro with our allies, Project QUEST and the Alamo Colleges, have led the way to ensure San Antonians whose lives have been shattered by the economic free fall can re-enter the workforce equipped with new skills and good salaries. This month, the workforce development program supported by CARES and the city of San Antonio began accepting applicants whose jobs went on hiatus or completely disappeared. These applicants are supported with critical wraparound services that include a stipend, child care, transportation, tutoring and counseling, like the highly successful services provided by Project QUEST, which is recognized nationally for its high graduation and job placement rates. The Alamo Colleges will play a vital role in this program, using Project QUEST’s model along with partnerships that will strengthen and expand its capacity to serve displaced workers.

To be successful, the new Education and Workforce Program will need to adhere to a set of standards like the CARES recovery program, whose primary focus is meeting the needs of the participants. Addressing those needs must be the focal point of decision-making, not business as usual. This means providing quality wraparound services, including a 1-to-100 ratio of counselors to participants, ensuring job placement upon program completion and connecting graduates with jobs that pay a living wage with benefits. And the overall policy direction and management of the program must reside within city government, along with participants, educators and community members who can offer insight into program implementation.

Approximately 160,000 workers have been displaced due to the pandemic. The lion’s share of the funding should be directed toward them. While the majority of tax dollars will be dedicated to workforce development, funds could also go to participants with some college credits who want to complete their degrees. If the higher education institutions adequately address their needs, it is possible a fair number of college graduates could result from a small investment into this pathway. However, using public dollars to offer the same programs and services that previously failed these same students will not do. This is not a scholarship program; it is a jobs program.

[Photo Credit: Billy Calzada/San Antonio Express-News]

Improving Economy of City, Lives Of its Residents in Grasp, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]


California IAF Leverages Covid-19 Relief for Undocumented Immigrants Using Old-School Practices on New Technologies

[Excerpt]

When politics, like most other activities, was forced to migrate online, the IAF didn’t seem an obvious winner. For 80 years, the group has embraced one-on-one conversations and “house meetings” to create organized communities whose strong bonds endure beyond a single campaign. These relationships, forged in person, smoothed the transition to digital organizing.

After the virus hit, a flurry of texts, calls and social media outreach followed as California’s IAF groups scrambled to get their people on Zoom calls. The news was grim: Budgets were tight and layoffs widespread. Undocumented people, often the hardest-hit population, were excluded from most forms of aid. The Cal-EITC push emerged from these digital house meetings. “It came from the lament of the people,” said the Rev. Arturo Corral of Our Lady Queen of Angels / La Placita Catholic Church in Los Angeles, a One LA leader.

In late April, local leaders began gathering Zoom participants from their local networks. Meanwhile, organizers sought out influential lawmakers, focusing on three Budget Committee members: State Assembly members David Chiu and Eloise Gómez Reyes and State Sen. Maria Elena Durazo. All three pledged to work to expand the tax credit.

The IAF groups were “not at all” confident that the tax credit expansion would end up in the governor’s budget. “Most people told us this was not going to happen,” [One LA Lead Organizer Robert] Hoo said. But after weeks of further organizing, it was included in Gov. Newsom’s June 30 budget.

[Photo Credit: Brent Stirton/Getty Images]

The Old-School Organizers Who Got It Done on Zoom, High Country News [pdf]

Faith, Community Leaders Praise Tax Break for Undocumented Workers, Good Times 


Central Texas Interfaith Raises Concern That Tesla Will Treat Austin as Low Wage, High Tech Town

[Excerpt]

While labor rights activists support Tesla’s stated commitment to a minimum wage of $15 an hour, substantially above Austin’s $7.25, the agreement sheds no light on which workers this standard applies to. The average hourly rate for manufacturing jobs in the U.S. is $22.

“The fear is that a company like Tesla keeps its high-level creative jobs in places like the Bay Area and begins to see Austin like a low-wage, high-tech town,”

said Doug Greco, lead organizer of Central Texas Interfaith, representing a coalition of nonprofit groups in Austin.

[Photo Credit: Cyber Truck: Tesla; Map: Lasagnaforone / Getty]

How Tesla Was Lured to Austin, Texas Monthly [pdf]


Study Claims Austin is Worst US City for Low-Wage Workers. Central Texas Interfaith Affirms Living Wage Strategies Still Needed.

[Excerpt]

According to Austin Interfaith, an alliance representing faith-based organizations, schools, nonprofits, and labor organizations, says a living wage is a wage that’s sufficient for a worker to support themselves and their family. For years, the group has pushed for establishment of a living wage in Austin. The alliance says the local living wage for a single parent who has two children and no savings is $21 an hour....

[Photo Credit: The Trail Foundation/Facebook]

Austin Clocks In as Worst US City for Minimum-Wage Earners, Says Study, Culture Map [pdf]


Dallas Morning News Reporter Highlights COVID-19 Relief Effort

Dallas Morning News reporter, Dianne Solis, highlights her experience with Dallas Area Interfaith, Catholic Charities and a Catholic priest who is a DAI leader.

SVP Dallas Workshop: Engaging the Media During COVID-19, Dallas Morning News


Marin Organizing Committee Leverages Extension of Eviction Ban Until September

[Excerpt]

Marin County supervisors have extended a ban on renter evictions through the end of September in an effort to prevent tenants from losing their homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the two-month extension. The temporary ban was first enacted in March and extended in April, May and June. It was set to expire July 31.

Under the countywide moratorium, a landlord cannot evict a residential tenant who is unable to pay rent due to financial losses stemming from the pandemic. Those can include increased child care expenses because of school closures, or lost wages due to reduced hours or layoffs.

Julia Kiely, a member of the Marin Organizing Committee, urged the supervisors to bolster funding for legal services for tenants facing eviction. She said the moratorium is “not self-enforcing.”

“Safe, secure housing is critical to both healthy outcomes and controlling community spread of the virus,” Kiely said.

Lucie Hollingsworth, a senior attorney with Legal Aid of Marin, urged the supervisors to consider ways to help renters who are unable to pay back missed rent after the ban expires to “stem the tidal wave of evictions that looms.”

“An extension only serves as a temporary Band-Aid,” Hollingsworth said. “Expecting tenants to come up with thousands of dollars in back-rent when the moratorium expires is unrealistic.”

[Photo Credit: Marin Independent Journal]

Marin County Extends Eviction Ban Through September, Marin Independent Journal [pdf]


Together Louisiana Demands Action from Congress to Safely Re-Open Schools

With the state of Louisiana continuing to reel from the impact of the coronavirus, parent and community leaders of Together Louisiana are calling on Congress to invest the funds needed to safely reopen schools.   Parents and teachers worry that students' return to in-person classes without necessary health and safety precautions will spread the virus further and expose people with pre-existing conditions to lethal risk.  

Building on online civic academies with experts including Tulane epidemiologist Dr. Hassig and Danielle Allen of Harvard University, leaders are turning to Congress to finance the cost of ensuring health safety at schools.  Measures proposed by Together Louisiana include funding to: 

  1. bridge the digital divide with school districts providing broadband internet free of charge for every public school student who needs it;
  2. hire more teachers, aids & tutors to decrease class size for districts where contagion levels make in-person school safe;
  3. make a "pod school" model accessible to low and moderate- income families, not just the wealthy, for districts where in-person school is *not* safe;
  4. build in-school testing capacity with same-day-results, so that EVERY child gets tested before school starts and periodically throughout the year;
  5. extra bus routes and drivers to allow for social distancing in transit; and
  6. create a school-based contact tracing operation, with adoption of masks and where appropriate, PPE.

Together Louisiana Calls on Congress to Provide Dollars to Ensure the Safe Reopening of Schools, Fox News


Together New Orleans Demands That Local Police Be Required to Release Body Camera Footage Upon Demand

Together New Orleans, in partnership with Together Louisiana, is calling on the City Council of New Orleans to change Police Department policy to allow for immediate review of body camera footage, on demand.  While a process does exist for footage release, it usually requires a public records request and internal process that often results in release of essential footage years after an event.

Together New Orleans Asks Council to Take Action on NOPD Body Camera Release PolicyWDSU