Silicon Valley was once called The Valley of Heart’s Delight, because of all the agriculture and fruit trees that used to grow here. The housing development where I live was a pumpkin patch until the 1980s, and I still have a persimmon tree in my backyard. Nowadays when people think of this area, they mostly think of computers and cutting-edge technology: Google, Facebook, Apple, Genentech, 23andMe, and many others. The history of both industries has a dark side: the conditions of the workers that make all this bounty possible.
According to Silicon Valley Rising, an advocacy coalition of labor, faith leaders, community-based organizations and workers, high-tech companies contract out most of their service jobs to workers who are poorly paid and don’t receive basic benefits. Latinx and Black people make up the majority of these janitors, food service workers, maintenance workers, security guards, and shuttle bus drivers who help build and sustain the tech economy. Many of these families have lived here for generations, long before the arrival of the tech riches that have priced them out.
This article, “Silicon Valley Security Guards Approve Contract to Raise Wages,” by Wendy Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle, highlights some recent results of Silicon Valley Rising’s efforts to change this narrative.
Security officer Elizabeth Valdivia’s job is to protect the employees and property of offices in the Bay Area, including from encroaching homeless people.
The irony is that Valdivia is homeless herself, living in her Mercury Tracer because she couldn’t afford a place to live.
Now, after more than five years of negotiations and activism, thousands of security officers at Silicon Valley tech companies will get pay increases, higher healthcare contributions and paid holidays after ratifying this, their first ever union contract, through Service Employees International Union/United Service Workers West. This was one of the largest private sector organizing efforts in California history.
I chose this article for #WATWB because it represents a vision worth fighting for, both in Silicon Valley and world-wide: an economic model that rebuilds the middle class and doesn’t leave hard-working people behind.
The We Are the World Blogfest (#WATWB) seeks to spread positive news on social media. Co-hosts for this month are: Simon Falk, Andrea Michaels, Shilpa Garg, Sylvia Stein, and Belinda Witzenhausen Please stop by and say hello!
1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.
2. Link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month.
3. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. The more the merrier!
4. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.
5. To signup, click here to add your link.