Dreary as the national and local economic pictures are, San Jose city workers turned out Monday to donate 280 backpacks stuffed with school supplies for needy children who will be returning to school later this month.
That’s more than 10 percent of the 2011 backpack goal set by Sacred Heart Community Service, which coordinates the annual drive, for all of San Jose. It comes at a time when city workers themselves are facing financial crisis after a decade of wage and benefit sacrifices to help balance the City of San Jose’s chronically weak budgets.
Since May, these union workers have also had the additional pressure of Mayor Chuck Reed’s threat to declare a “fiscal and public safety emergency” as a pretext for placing pension changes on a special ballot that would effectively end collective bargaining for thousands of city employees. The declaration has been postponed twice at the insistence of unions who argued that pensions be bargained.
Optimism was the point of the rally, said Cindy Chavez, executive officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council.
Union members are optimistic that people working together in a spirit of fairness and caring is the best way for communities to solve difficult problems. Bringing together people in the spirit of caring and fairness is the way to help kids get off to a good start in school.