Nikole Cababa, Video still by VoiceWaves.
Nikole Cababa is a community organizer with the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. Born and raised in Long Beach, she is an active member of the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, which is working to pass a living wage initiative here in Long Beach. Most recently, the Coalition has collected over 30,000 signatures needed to put the initiative on the November ballot for a vote.
What is the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community?
So the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community is a broad alliance of students, residents, teachers, clergy, workers, and many [other members of our] community that are brought together under the idea that, you know, we need to work together to improve our city and make sure that Long Beach becomes a city that works for everyone. One of the most important things that we do is really promote responsible development [and access to] good jobs, and that’s how we ensure that there are healthier communities here in our city.
Can you explain what the living wage campaign is?
The living wage campaign is our campaign to really bring livable wages for low-income workers and we’re focusing on one of the largest low wages sectors in the city, which is hospitality and tourism. We know that a large number of these hotel workers have been living twice below the poverty line but at the same time the city has invested millions of dollars of direct subsidies to these hotels in the amount of $750,000,000 since the 80’s. What this campaign is really about is making sure that there is a fair return to the communities that live here—and the majority of hotel workers live in Long Beach. They’re our neighbors. They’re our community members. The living wage campaign is about making sure they earn a reasonable wage where workers are able to support their families, [one that will allow them] to live a long healthy life here in the city of Long Beach. We’ve seen living wages pass in other major cities throughout the United States and its time for Long Beach to jump on that same wagon.
Who is helping out with the campaign?
The Coalition is made up of a number of diverse member organizations, as well as residents themselves who are really involved with everything from the organizing and outreach to make sure that we have a strong coalition that is promoting good jobs and a healthy community [for the people of Long Beach]. Organizations involved include the organization [I am affliated with], which is the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. We have clergy and faith communities involved like the Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. We also have environmental justice organizations, LGBT as well as civil rights organizations, and even students and teachers. Everyone in this work believes that everyone deserves a city that promotes a lot of these key values and so it makes sense that, as diverse as Long Beach is, our coalition has to be as diverse. [We have to] make sure that everyone can play a role in making sure that Long Beach has a healthy and thriving future for everyone.
What does a healthy Long Beach look like to you?
A healthy Long Beach to me is making sure that families and community members are able to meet their basic needs—and that’s strongly tied to making sure that families have access to good jobs. They should have access to affordable healthcare because we want to take care of our children, our future generation, that is going to live and thrive here in Long Beach. And we have to start at home, we have to start here, and continuing to promote economic opportunities for disenfranchised communities as well as all residents of Long Beach. This is going to ensure that we have a healthy Long Beach, not just for workers but for the whole community, because we know that when workers make a decent wage, those are the customers of our small businesses. They are our neighbors that are supporting the local economy.