Yesterday afternoon, contracted cafeteria workers at Intel’s Santa Clara headquarters won their vote to join UNITE HERE Local 19.
Following key wins by janitors, security officers and shuttle bus drivers, this victory for food service workers — the fastest growing subcontracted industry that serves the tech sector — breaks new ground for Silicon Valley Rising, our campaign to combat occupational segregation in the tech industry.
Cafeteria workers are part of the invisible workforce that is essential to the tech industry’s success, yet has been left struggling with low wages and sky-high living costs. This vote brings these workers out of the shadows, and shows how our movement to raise job standards is spreading across the tech sector.
Our research has found that compared to well-paid engineers and programmers, the subcontracted service workers who keep tech firms running smoothly are six times more likely to be black or Latino — and on average earn just one-sixth as much. Between 1990 and 2014, jobs at food service contractors in Silicon Valley have grown by 246 percent.
This victory for the workers at Intel, employed by a contractor called Eurest, is a new breakthrough in the larger effort by Silicon Valley’s workers and communities to build an inclusive middle class in the region. It comes after a year-long effort by these workers — whose green badges signified they couldn’t access the services available to blue-badged direct employees — to organize for decent wages, respect, and a voice at work.
The Intel vote comes on the heels of the announcement Wednesday morning that shuttle bus drivers at Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation — which operates shuttles for Cisco, Zynga, Electronic Arts, and Intuit — have joined the Teamsters Local 665, making this a big week for subcontracted employees standing together to ensure all tech workers share in the industry’s success.