On Friday, April 19th, three religious leaders of the Interfaith Worker Justice Committee of Colorado were on hand to support low-wage food service workers at the University of Denver in their struggle for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. The action in Denver was one of several around the country targeting Sodexo, the 22nd largest corporation in the world with more than 1 billion dollars annual profit.
Actor Danny Glover was arrested the same day in a similar action of over 200 people outside Sodexo's Gaithersburg, Maryland, headquarters.
To see a brief video and story about the Denver action involving IWJ-CO leader, Br. David Garner, click here.
FRESC and Allies Push Back Anti-Worker, Anti-Equal Opportunity, Anti-Women Ballot Measures
In 2008 five statewide ballot measures were geared to push back opportunities for workers, affirmative action, and women. All but one were defeated (and that one will be challenged in the courts). Colorado is the first state in the country to successfully defeat a Right to Work (for less) amendment since the 1970s. FRESC reached more than 50,000 households over several months of canvassing, recruited 3,000 new members, spoke before 150 audiences, and appeared in local and national television, radio, and print media. With razor thin margins of victory on several amendments, FRESC’s ground effort and large labor, community and clergy coalition put us over the top.
Expanding Prevailing Wage and Training Funds on Denver TIF Projects
Following more than a year of organizing by rank-and-file construction workers on the Prevailing Wage Committee, and FRESC participation in a broad stakeholder advisory committee, the Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA) adopted two policies that expand prevailing wage and dedicate funds for construction training.
The Prevailing Wage Policy applies Denver’s Prevailing Wage to trunk infrastructure on TIF projects. Trunk infrastructure includes road work, public utilities, parks, police stations, libraries, etc. DURA’s biggest TIF investments are on large-scale redevelopment projects involving significant trunk infrastructure.
The Enhanced Training Opportunity Policy requires all projects to dedicate 1% of their TIF allocation to training. Projects receiving more than $20 million are required to develop a Training Plan. The funds will provide new training that would not have otherwise been provided. Projects receiving less than $20 million in TIF may elect a payment in lieu, with funds going to a construction training fund or program.
Meaningful Participation for Public Housing Residents
Community organizing and leadership development with public housing residents in Denver's La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood resulted in the creation of a model community-government partnership to
address the challenges of redevelopment. In the face of possible transit-oriented redevelopment of public housing as part of
Denver’s FasTracks rail expansion, FRESC helped create a process where the voices of residents fearful of displacement could be heard. This organizing resulted in formation of the "Resident Advisory Committee," where residents sit alongside city planners,
housing authority officials, and community based organizations to draft
principles and priorities that will govern any future redevelopment. To learn more click here.
Statewide Increase in Minimum Wage
FRESC played an instrumental role
in a community-labor coalition to win passage of
a 2006 statewide ballot initiative that increased Colorado’s minimum wage
from $5.15 to $6.85 per hour, indexed to inflation in future years. FRESC continues to play a role in proper implementation and enforcement of the law.
Community Benefits Achievements at Cherokee-Gates
Following three years of community organizing, strategic research and coalition negotiations, the FRESC-founded Campaign for Responsible Development achieved Denver's first comprehensive set of community benefits on the redevelopment of the old Gates Rubber factory. Achievements included:
More than 200 units of low-income affordable and
commitment to hire local residents
involvement in environmental clean-up
for infrastructure construction workforce
Use of Best Value contracting standards for contractor selection
Creation of Denver's first Voluntary Clean-up
FRESC worked with
CRD Coalition partners and neighborhood residents to ensure transparency and
adequate clean-up of trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination in neighborhoods
surrounding the Gates redevelopment project. With no legal guidelines requiring
public participation in the cleanup, FRESC provided technical information and
neighborhood organizing to support creation of a resident-led body to ensure
public accountability in the clean-up. To learn more please visit VCAB-Denver.
Improved TCE Clean-up Standards for the
State of Colorado
As a result of technical research and assistance from FRESC, advocacy and organizing, Colorado significantly lowered the
allowable levels of TCE for public health protection, resulting in guidelines
that are 10 times more protective of indoor air and 40 times more likely to
trigger necessary indoor air testing.
High Road Construction Standards at University of Colorado - Boulder
FRESC worked with students at the University of Colorado - Boulder to formulate and win a precedent-setting agreement on capital construction projects worth more than $400 million. The agreement included progressive labor standards and green-building provisions that will safeguard the environment. FRESC provided legal and policy expertise in the development of a Best Value Contracting process whereby contractors and some subcontractors were evaluated on both bid price and workforce criteria such as: family-supporting wages (including prevailing wages),
comprehensive family health care coverage, opportunities for registered apprenticeship training, and local hiring.The environmental agreement includes
LEED green building standards, use of recycled materials, indoor air
quality, and hazardous waste reduction.
$60 Million for Low-Income Energy Assistance
With founding leadership from FRESC, the Colorado Apollo Alliance successfully passed legislation that increased natural gas efficiency and delivered critical energy assistance to low-income households. House Bill 06-1200, sponsored by Representative
Bernie Buescher and Senator Ken Kester,
sent $41 million to the Low-Income
Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) to help poor families facing sharply increasing
heating costs, and also authorized $19 million to be used
for energy efficiency weatherization programs that will help provide permanent
reductions in heating costs for qualifying low-income families.
Inclusion of Affordable Housing and Community Benefits in Land Use Plans
leaders, and members of the CRD have successfully advocated for language
related to affordable housing and/or good jobs in many plans that guide policy
and practice in the City and County of Denver, including the Downtown Denver
Plan, St. Anthony’s Redevelopment Plan, the Master Plan for
Denver’s Union Station, and many more.
First Source/Local Hiring
followed-up on the commitments to local hiring in the Cherokee-Gates project
with technical assistance, community outreach and support for the
implementation of local hiring. The systems developed with FRESC’s
assistance will be available not only on Gates, but on all future economic
development projects required to comply with “First Source” local