Working Partnerships

Working Partnerships Rides Half-Million Dollar County Gravy Train

When Teresa Alvarado announced that she was running for George Shirakawa Jr.’s vacated county supervisor seat, County Executive Jeff Smith helpfully forwarded the email to Working Partnership USA’s executive team: Bob Brownstein and Cindy Chavez. The forwarding of memos by Smith highlights the cozy relationship between the County of Santa Clara and Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA), the organization led by longtime labor union executive and current supervisor candidate Cindy Chavez. WPUSA is joined at the hip to the powerful South Bay Labor Council (SBLC), with whom it has historically shared offices, facilities, equipment, political objectives and allocated employees. Last year, SBLC led the effort to raise county sales taxes by $500 million over the next ten years and to increase San Jose’s minimum wage by 25 percent. It also endorsed 70 candidates for political office. Working Partnerships has been the recipient of at least $518,163 from the cash-challenged county in the past two years, performing a grab bag of services. Newly released documents obtained via a San Jose Inside public records request show the county’s contracts represented about 15 percent of Working Partnerships’ revenues for those years.


County Fights Tobacco Use by Throwing Away Money on ‘Smart Mobs’

This video of a “smart mob” designed to discourage smoking tobacco, put on by nonprofit Working Partnership USA, was funded with county taxpayer dollars.

Flash mobs are so 2011. But apparently, that’s how the county decided to spend leftover money at the end of last year, which, if memory serves, was 2012. But, wait, these weren’t just any flash mobs—they were “smart mobs.” At its last meeting of 2012, the county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $40,000 increase in its partnership with nonprofit Working Partnerships USA. The additional funds were retroactively approved to continue an anti-smoking initiative through March 18, 2013.


Cindy Chavez’s Conflicts of Interest

While on its executive committee, prospective county supervisor candidate Cindy Chavez helped move hundreds of thousands of dollars out of a local health nonprofit, according to copies of board minutes obtained by San Jose Inside. At a pivotal meeting last June, Chavez voted to approve a budget that included a line item in which one of her employers, Working Partnerships USA, had a financial interest—and to fund a political campaign that was largely run by her other employer, the South Bay Labor Council. The two transactions totaled $400,000, more than a quarter of the Santa Clara Family Health Foundation’s budget.


Inside the Working Partnerships Political Money Machine

Working Partnerships USA, the labor-aligned nonprofit headed by former San Jose vice mayor Cindy Chavez, yesterday released its most recent Internal Revenue Service Form 990, after eight days of refusing requests to view the document. A review of the organization’s filings over the years found spending increases during key elections despite IRS restrictions on political activities by charities. In total, the nonprofit has raised and spent more than $25 million since 1998.


Chavez Steps down as Labor Council’s CEO, Remains with Working Partnerships

Cindy Chavez is out as CEO of the South Bay Labor Council. End of an era? Not quite. Chavez, who joined the SBLC in 2009 after an unsuccessful mayoral run and two terms on the San Jose City Council, will continue in the role of executive director of Working Partnerships, the think tank that helped organize the successful Measure D campaign and shares a building with SBLC.

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