Tech is booming. Record-breaking profits, inspiring innovations, ideas that turn into life-changing products are all examples of the news we hear about tech companies in California. The top 150 companies brought in over $103 billion in profits in 2013, and this was pre iPhone 6!
But this prosperity is not being shared with everyone who works for the tech industry. In reality, the majority of the people who provide services to keep the largest tech companies in California running efficiently are struggling to make ends meet. This is a growing problem for tech, particularly when considering that every time a high skill tech job is created, two to three (and some even say four to five) service-level jobs are needed to support that job. Workers who provide safety and security for the tech industry and shuttle employees day and night from San Francisco to beautiful offices in Silicon Valley should have dignity in their workplace. Earning a wage that will barely cover renting a room, buying groceries, and getting to work every morning is not something anyone should have to go through, especially when working for an industry with such astronomical profits.
Many of the people who enjoy the widely-reported and admittedly awesome perks that come with their jobs at Apple, Yahoo, Facebook and other tech giants may not know that the security guards who protect them and the people who drive them to and from work are subjected to poor working conditions. For example, a recent article by the San Jose Mercury highlighted one worker’s daily routine:
The first leg of the Yahoo shuttle bus driver's workday starts at 6 a.m., when he ferries high-tech workers from their pads in San Francisco to their desks in Sunnyvale. He is stuck in the South Bay from 9:30 a.m. until they begin trickling out of offices for the ride home around 4:30 p.m., unable to return to his own residence in San Francisco — and earning nothing during the seven hours of downtime. His bus is his livelihood, his home office and the place where he steals a few hours of sleep midday.
But change is happening in Silicon Valley. The shuttle bus drivers are standing together to join the Teamsters, which has allowed them to negotiate paid sick and vacation time, full health care coverage and increase their wages up to $27.50 an hour. This is an incredible victory for working people in Silicon Valley. Importantly, as with any other organizing win, their efforts just raised the standard for all service workers in Silicon Valley.
Several organizations have banded together to keep up the momentum for workers in the Silicon Valley. The campaign, called Silicon Valley Rising is set to launch tomorrow, February 27th. This campaign will focus on tackling disparities in the Silicon Valley head-on and promote public policies to address wage gaps for all workers in the region. Be sure to check out their site tomorrow. If you’re in the San Jose area, you can join their launch event at McDonnell Hall at 1:30pm.
Next week, the campaign to raise standards in Silicon Valley ramps up with actions all across the state to support security guards at Apple. Activists will descend on Apple storefronts across California to demand a living wage and better working conditions from the incredibly profitable tech company. Check out this site for more info on dates and times of each action across the state so you can join and show your solidarity with these brave workers!
On a trip to Silicon Valley last week, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned the security guards' campaign and called it an example of a “movement stirring across our nation.” It’s time to stir things up at Apple. Join us next week!