Celebrating 40+ Years of Organizing in San Antonio

tijerinaNot even a quarter of the way through 2016, COPS/Metro leaders have been busy making history. After 18 months of hard work, leaders succeeded in raising wages for 5,000 of the lowest paid workers in the city, county and hospitals, who now earn an entry level wage of $13/hour, leading the way in Texas for higher wages. 

"For me, it's not politics, it's justice — and asking for a decent wage is not unreasonable," Fr. Walter D'Heedene of Sacred Heart Church told Wade Goodwyn on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." Listen to the full story. 

Leaders also lobbied city council members to increase funding for workforce development program Project QUEST, increasing city funding for the program from 1.5 million to 2.2 million for 2016, a 47% increase over last year's allocation. 

Leaders Kick-Off Living Wage Campaign in SAISD and other School Districts

saisd wagesJust last week, COPS/Metro joined forces with the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel to ask SAISD's school board to raise entry level wages for bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers and other support personnel to $13/hour. Prior to the board meeting, COPS/Metro and San Antonio Alliance leaders met with all 7 trustees and the superintendent to figure out a way forward. 

Vanita Rodriguez, a cafeteria manager testified that all the workers in her cafeteria have to work two jobs "just to survive." 

“We are together on this,” responded Patti Radle, board president. “This board is anxious to pay decent wages to its employees.”

If the effort succeeds, over 2,000 SAISD employees will be impacted by the raise. COPS/Metro leaders are also working to identify workers from other school districts in their congregations in order to expand the campaign to reach more people.  

SAISD to Consider Raising Minimum Wages for District Employees, The Rivard Report
SAISD Employees Demonstrate, Speak out for Wage Increases (Video), KENS 5
SAISD Support Staff Wants 13/Hour Living Wage (VIDEO)KSAT
School District Workers Begin Living Wage Campaign, San Antonio Express News

Southside Residents Seek Solutions for Impassable Roads

RoadsIn January, COPS/Metro united with residents of the Highland Oaks neighborhood on the far south side, asking county commissioners to take responsibility for impassable roads. Commissioner Elizondo responded that a county-wide approach must be taken to address the concerns raised in the Highland Oaks subdivision and beyond, where residents raised concern that school buses, EMS, fire, law enforcement and delivery vehicles have trouble accessing their homes due to rough, sandy roadways. Highland Oaks residents have scheduled further conversations with commissioner's court for early March. 

Bexar County Community Fights to Pave its Streets of Sand, San Antonio Current
Solutions Sought for Bexar Road Woes, San Antonio Express News
South Bexar County Residents Call for Road Improvements, The Rivard Report

Training the Next Generation of Leaders

spanish trainingCOPS/Metro will celebrate 40+ Years of Organizing on Saturday, April 30, 2016. Our leaders value training just as much as action, and are investing their time, talent and energy into their own development as well as training the next generation of leaders. In January, thirty-five new leaders from COPS/Metro and from sister organizations in the Valley and Houston participated in a 3 Day, Spanish-language training to learn the habits and practices of organizing. 

Additionally, every Thursday in February, COPS/Metro leaders and allies have been learning the "History of Low Wages in San Antonio" and how past generations of leaders have fought to raise wages and invest in job training. 

"The stories I have shared with you are just an atom in the universe of the experiences I have with COPS/Metro," First President of COPS, Mr. Andres Sarabia told the class. "I can close my eyes and imagine myself sitting in a classroom 40 years ago, listening to training just like this, just as you are today."

Missed the class? See video clips of  Andres Sarabia and Project Quest's Executive Director Sr. Pearl Ceasar share the early history of COPS and Metro Alliance. 

Do you value the work of COPS/Metro? Leaders are committing to a hard money campaign to raise multiples of $40 from as many people as possible. Make an investment to support the training of future leaders and organizers.