City employees on the way to a living wage

Check out recent coverage of COPS/Metro’s efforts in working with the City Manager and Council in raising the bottom wages of City of San Antonio workers:
Sisters of the Holy Spirit thank City Manager

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Palo Alto College celebrates 30th anniversary

At its first convention in 1974, Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS) passed a resolution to open a community college on San Antonio's West Side or South Side. COPS leaders worked tirelessly with elected officials and other community members to establish Palo Alto College on San Antonio's South Side. Palo Alto celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2015.

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Where do the Mayoral Candidates Stand on our Agenda?

COPS/Metro leaders have asked candidates for mayor to stand with us on our agenda to increase the living wage for public sector workers, invest in Project Quest and other workforce development strategies, and fund housing rehabilitation, especially for seniors.

Want to know where they stand? Here is an article about our recent assembly from Channel 4 News. 

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Accountability Assembly - April 19, 2015

Leaders of COPS/Metro, a broad-based organization of churches, schools, and unions, will hold an Accountability Assembly with Candidates for Mayor and City Council, Sunday, April 19, at 3:30 PM in St. Henry’s Parish (1619 S. Flores St) to advance a Living Wage strategy for the lowest paid City of San Antonio workers and for outsourced & subcontract service jobs. Over 300 delegates are expected to attend the session, the top 4 candidates for Mayor, and City Council candidates from Districts 2, 3, 5, and 7.

"This is an exciting turning point in what has already proven to be a successful campaign,” remarked Esmeralda Rodriguez of St. Timothy Parish and co-chair for the assembly. “Since we began organizing around this issue last June, we’ve gained the support of 4 of the 5 Bexar County Commissioners to raise wages for the lowest paid county employees to $14.91 over three years, starting with $13 next year. And the Alamo Colleges have already raised wages for their lowest paid employees as a direct result of our actions. Now, we’re turning our attention to the City.”

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Living Wages in 2015

In late December 2014, the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board outlined several issues for the state and local government to tackle in 2015. They noted: "C.O.P.S./Metro Alliance has been waging a living-wage campaign in San Antonio, prevailing on city and county government leaders to pay their lowest-paid employees and contractors a decent wage, That means beyond minimum wage. The group got a good reception when making its pitch to Bexar County commissioners recently."

On January 18, 2015, the San Antonio Express-News published "Tax dollars should support living wages," credited to COPS/Metro leaders Fr. Steven Gamez and Sr. Consuelo Tovar. They made the case for #LivingWages and quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last speech: "It is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages."

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At 40, COPS still standing up for residents

The commentary, "At 40, COPS still standing up for residents," by the first president of Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS), Andres "Andy" Sarabia, reflects on the organization's accomplishments during its first 40 years. This article appeared on page F6 in the Sunday, December 7, 2014 San Antonio Express-News.

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Texas Week with Rick Casey now online

In case you missed the November 21, 2014 installment of Texas Week with Rick Casey on KLRN-TV, or if you want to review or share it, the episode with COPS/Metro leader Mike Phillips discussing the Living Wage campaign with host Rick Casey and former City Council member and SAW Board member Reed Williams is now online.

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Living Wage Strategy focus of Texas Week with Rick Casey

Tune in to KLRN's Texas Week with Rick Casey this Friday night, November 21 at 8:00pm. COPS/Metro leader Mike Phillips will discuss the Living Wage & Economic Security campaign.

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Judge Nelson Wolff Supports COPS/Metro Strategy to Raise Wages in Bexar County

Tuesday morning, leaders from COPS and the Metro Alliance were joined by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff on the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse in support of a three part strategy proposed by COPS/Metro to raise wages for the lowest paid workers in the county, as well as those working for county contractors. Later in the morning, COPS/Metro leaders formally presented the strategy to the commissioners. 

At 10:30 AM during the County Commissioners meeting, COPS/Metro leaders asked the Commissioners to raise wages for the lowest paid county workers from the current floor of $11.67 an hour to $14.91 over a three year period. They also asked Commissioners to put the wages of people employed by county contractors on par with the current county living wage. The third strategy laid out by leaders was to close a tax loophole to require that all businesses applying for tax incentives of any kind abide by the current Economic Development guidelines regarding wage floors. 

After hearing the presentation, Judge Wolff spoke favorably to all three pieces of the strategy. He directed the County Manager to research how to implement a plan that would raise the current minimum wage from $11.67 an hour to $13 an hour by next year. The County Manager will work with COPS/Metro leaders on an initial plan to be presented at Commissioner’s Court in early January 2015. 

COPS/Metro leaders hope the County's willingness to look into the issue will encourage other employers, including the City of San Antonio, the Alamo Colleges, school boards and hospital district to consider raising wages.

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COPS/Metro works with Bexar County to Raise Wages

Leaders of COPS/Metro will hold a press conference on the north steps of the Bexar County Courthouse on Tuesday, November 18 at 9:00am to announce a Living Wage strategy for the lowest paid County workers and for outsourced & subcontract service jobs. County Judge Nelson Wolff will join COPS/Metro leaders, who are also scheduled to make a formal presentation during
the Commissioners Court meeting later that morning.

This follows a Leaders Assembly held on Sunday afternoon, November 16, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church Civic Center, where approximately 350 community leaders gathered in support of the plan to raise wages. Bexar County Commissioners Paul Elizondo and Tommy Adkisson, State Representative—and mayoral candidate—Mike Villarreal, and State Senator Leticia van de Putte supported the strategy. They committed to work with COPS/Metro leaders in raising wages for the lowest paid public sector workers, establish living wages for outsourced & subcontract jobs, and close the loopholes that allow some companies to apply for tax incentives without paying living wages.

“The unemployment rate in San Antonio is less than 4.7%,” remarked Esmeralda Rodriguez, a St. Timothy parish member, during the assembly. “That means that the vast majority of us are working, and we’re working very hard, sometimes multiple jobs. The problem is that many people are not being paid enough to make ends meet.”

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