Silicon Valley Rising (SVR) is a project of Working Partnerships USA, a left-wing community organizing organization, and the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, a regional labor union federation under the AFL-CIO. SVR organizes campaigns to support the implementation of left-of-center labor policy in Silicon Valley, California. SVR operates under the umbrella of Bay Rising, a project of the left-wing Movement Strategy Network. 1
SVR advocates for changes to labor and social policy in Silicon Valley including increased wages for maintenance and service workers at large technology companies, increased government-funded housing projects, and the prevention of so-called “gentrification.” Most recently, SVR has pushed for regulations that would force companies to convert independent contractors into formal employees in order that more labor regulations would apply to them. SVR has also worked to regulate plans for Google’s new campus in San Jose, bargaining with Google in an attempt to increase funding for public housing and to gain Google’s support for left-of-center tenancy policies more broadly.2
Silicon Valley Rising (SVR) is a left-of-center project of Working Partnerships USA, a left-wing organization that advances left-of-center labor policy, and the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council. SVR, alongside its sister advocacy organization Silicon Valley Rising Action, aims to regulate and influence large technology companies to increase wages and benefits for low-income employees, such as security guards and maintenance workers.3 SVR also advocates for increased government housing and health care subsidies, claiming that they are necessary to revive the middle class. 4
SVR and its sister organizations San Francisco Rising and Oakland Rising operate under the umbrella organization Bay Rising and receive support from its fiscal sponsor, the left-wing Movement Strategy Center. 5
In 2019, Silicon Valley Rising launched the Responsible Contracting Project in conjunction with the TechEquity Collaborative, a left-of-center organization that seeks increased corporate and government assistance programs for service workers. The initiative aims to explore left-of-center regulatory measures that would force corporations to convert independent contractors into company employees. The move would force companies to provide employee benefits, including healthcare and paid leave, to independent contractors. The project also studies regulatory proposals which would force new regulations on companies that use independent contractors, including mandating flexible scheduling policies, increasing contractor pay to support a “living wage,” and providing employee benefits to contractors.6 7
In 2020, SVR began a campaign to negotiate with Google on the development of Google’s new company campus in San Jose, California. SVR published an open letter to Google’s chairman demanding radical conditions on the development of the campus. The letter included demands that Google finance a community-administered low-income housing fund. The letter also called upon Google to encourage the city to allocate 25% of any housing units built after the move to affordable housing and to adopt increased privileges for tenants facing eviction. Google is continuing to plan the development of the campus, awaiting a decision from the San Jose City Council in the spring of 2021. 8 9
SVR has also endorsed left-of-center regulatory measures in Silicon Valley. These include support for a proposal to increase property taxes for businesses and support for eliminating the ban on affirmative action in California.10 11
Sal Ventura is president of Silicon Valley Rising. Ventura also sits as president of the board of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council and as a business representative with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 332. 12
Jean Cohen, interim executive officer of SVR, formerly worked as the political and communications director for the United Association (UA) Local Union 393 and is vice chair of the Santa Clara County Democratic Party. 13
Derecka Mehrens, SVR’s chief financial officer, is the executive director of Working Partnerships USA, SVR’s parent organization.14
The IRS has no record of Silicon Valley Rising as an independent organization. SVR Action, SVR’s sister advocacy organization, reported revenue of $86,164, expenses of $32,750, and $112,274 in assets in 2018. 15
- “About Us.” Silicon Valley Rising. Accessed November 3, 2020. https://siliconvalleyrising.org/about/.
- “Let’s Make Sure San Jose Families Can Thrive as Google Grows.” Silicon Valley Rising. Accessed November 3, 2020. https://siliconvalleyrising.org/google/.
- “About Us.” Silicon Valley Rising. Accessed November 3, 2020. https://www.siliconvalleyrising.org/about/.
- Johnson, Dave. “Silicon Valley Rising Fights For Worker Justice.” Crooks and Liars. Crooks and Liars, March 5, 2015. https://crooksandliars.com/2015/03/silicon-valley-rising-fights-worker.
- “Our Members and Partners.” Bay Rising, November 2, 2020. https://bayrising.org/about/our-members/.
- “Workforce & Labor Platform Guiding Principles.” TechEquity Collaborative, April 7, 2020. https://techequitycollaborative.org/workforce-labor-platform-guiding-principles/.
- “Silicon Valley Rising Has a Plan to Improve the Lives of ‘Tech’s Invisible Workforce’.” California Political Review, September 5, 2019. https://www.capoliticalreview.com/capoliticalnewsandviews/silicon-valley-rising-has-a-plan-to-improve-the-lives-of-techs-invisible-workforce/.
- Peters, Jay. “Renders of Google’s Gigantic San Jose Campus Show How It Could Feel More like a Neighborhood.” The Verge. The Verge, October 9, 2020. https://www.theverge.com/2020/10/8/21508416/google-gigantic-san-jose-campus-downtown-west.
- “An Open Letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.” Silicon Valley Rising. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://act.siliconvalleyrising.org/google-open-letter.
- “Silicon Valley Rising.” Facebook. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/SVRising/.
- Twitter. Twitter. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://twitter.com/SVRising.
- “Silicon Valley Rising”. Short Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. Form 990EZ. 2018. Part IV.
- “Board and Staff.” South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council. Accessed November 8, 2020. https://www.southbaylabor.org/board_and_staff.
- “Derecka Mehrens.” Working Partnerships USA. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.wpusa.org/about/team/derecka-mehrens/.
- “Silicon Valley Rising”. Short Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. Form 990EZ. 2018. Part I, Lines1, 17, 21.