We Are Responsible Development San Jose

Our community is changing faster and more dramatically than ever. The development that is happening in Our San Jose right now will shape the political and economic landscape of our community for generations. This is the time to stand up for responsible development in San Jose.

Responsible Development San Jose — Building the Middle Class is a non-profit organization established to strengthen and grow the middle-class by ensuring developers provide a family sustainable wage and benefit package to workers in the building trades. We support apprenticeship programs that provide a pathway to a sustainable career and we support a direct entry program that allows veterans to transition directly from military service to a career in the construction trades.

We Build San Jose

The hard-working women and men of the Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Sprinkler fitters’ (MEPS) construction trades are the workers who build new high-rise buildings and other developments in San Jose. Our  local unions represent more than 7000 members in Santa Clara County, and we work directly with 3000 brothers and sisters who live, work, and play in San Jose.

We support apprenticeship programs that provide a pathway to a sustainable career. We also support a direct entry program that allows veterans to transition directly from military service to a career in the construction trades. Every day we see, first-hand how new development is transforming our community and that’s why we are committed to standing up for responsible development in San Jose.

Darchelle Esteban — Electrician

Darchelle is an electrician and member of IBEW Local 332. She has lived in San Jose since she was 15 years old. In addition to working as an electrician, Darchelle volunteers in local jails and prisons speaking with inmates about addiction and recovery.

“I’m concerned about how this city is changing. I’m seeing a lot of money being spent on new buildings, but that money isn’t staying in our community. With all of these high-priced condos and apartments I’m starting to feel alienated in my own community.”

“I have a good job, but property values are so high that I can’t afford to buy a house. I’m worried that when get older and need to retire I’ll be forced to move out of San Jose.”

“I want the family feel of this city back. I know that if we don’t stand up we’ll move backwards. That’s why I’m standing up for the middle class in San Jose.”

Lisa Long — Pipefitter

Lisa LongLisa Long is a pipefitter with UA Local 393. She has been with UA 21 years now, and is an activist and leader working to help more women of color enter the building trades. Lisa and her two adult daughters all attended high school in San Jose. Lisa put herself through college while working and raising her daughters, earning a bachelor’s degree in construction management from Chico State University.

“As a single parent, working as a union pipefitter gave me the opportunity to take care of my kids, with decent pay and medical benefits. I didn’t have to go on public assistance or worry about health insurance for my family.”

“We are part of this community. We are building San Jose. When the city offers deals and tax breaks to developers, we need to balance those requests with the needs of working families in our city. We just want to be able to work here and live here and support ourselves and our families.”

“Unions provide an opportunity for women to break into the building trades, earn a good living, and be treated fairly. If I had gone to a non-union shop they would likely say: ‘She’s a girl, she can’t do the work, pay her less.’ Or, more likely, as a woman of color, I wouldn’t have been able to get into the industry at all.”

Tessie Parayno — Sound and Communication Journeywoman

Tessie Parayno
Tessie is a Sound and Communication journeywoman with IBEW Local 332. Born and raised in San Jose, she grew up with her dad working as a police officer for the San Jose Police Department, and then later as an electrician with IBEW. When she decided to transition from a career as an elementary school teacher, she knew the unionized building trades offered her an opportunity for a good family-wage job that would allow her to continue to improve her community. 

“Growing up middle-class in San Jose, I feel like I had a really good upbringing. With my dad working as a police officer and then as a union electrician with IBEW, we always had enough to support our family. I don’t want a San Jose where people who build and serve this community can no longer afford to live here.”

“Being a woman in the building trades, you sometimes have to have a tough skin. You can’t let things get you down. Women in my local are very tight-knit and we support each other. I’m also active with IBEW internationally as an elected officer for Reach out and Engage the Next Generation of Electrical Workers (RENEW) which is part of the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC). Through this caucus, we are pro-actively reaching out to recruit, train and empower women and people of color. RENEW focuses on preparing the young workers and training them to grow into leaders in their locals and in their communities.”

“By standing together in our union, we not only stand up for respect, fair pay, and a voice on the job. We also stand up for our families and for strong communities. That’s why we fought for the 8-hour day and weekends in the first place – to ensure we all have time to spend with our families and be involved in our communities.”

Tomas Plata — Pipefitter

Tomas Palata Pereze
Tomas is a pipefitter and a member of UA Local 393. He’s been in Silicon Valley for more than 20 years.

“Over the past several years, rent has gone up but my wages have stayed the same. My mother is very sick and she’s my whole world. I’m lucky to have a good job so I can pay for her medication and treatment, but as rents go up it’s getting harder and harder to be able to support my mother.”

“There are many stories like mine and I want everyone in our community to be able to thrive. We need to provide opportunities for everyone in our community to benefit from and thrive if we are going to maintain and grow a healthy economy.”

IBEW Local 332  |  SMART Local 104  |   UA Local 483  |  UA Local 393