Serving Silicon Valley

November 12, 2020

This morning, we released a new study on Silicon Valley’s “invisible workforce” — the cafeteria workers, janitors, security officers, and other people who keep tech campuses running.

The key takeaway: tech giants’ commitments to their service workers have meant over 14,000 people can make rent, see a doctor, and pay bills during the pandemic.

The people who cook, clean, and protect these tech campuses are as much tech workers as programmers and engineers. In many cases they’ve devoted their careers to the industry. And through years of powerful organizing side by side with community members like you, they’ve won higher wages, full-family health insurance, and — perhaps most importantly — a growing recognition by the industry that they are an integral part of the tech workforce.

In the early days of COVID-19, that organizing led nearly all major Silicon Valley tech corporations to announce they would maintain pay and benefits for their subcontracted workers while campuses are closed. This has been a crucial anchor of stability for the Black and Brown communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 — 64% of unionized tech service workers are Black or Latinx.

Yet in the past couple months, a few outliers like Yahoo (now owned by Verizon) and Lyft have chosen to abandon their workers. They’ve taken away wages and healthcare from several hundred people in the middle of a pandemic.

If the rest of the tech industry were to follow suit, it would have devastating impacts on thousands of families. Our study looks at what the impact would be if Silicon Valley tech giants laid off their thousands of subcontracted blue-collar workers. Among the findings:

  • The number of unemployed workers in Silicon Valley could increase by more than 10%.
  • Up to 12,000 service workers could lose health insurance coverage, along with family members who depend on the coverage.
  • An estimated 6,500 families with children could be at risk of being unable to pay rent.
  • An estimated 8,300 renters could be at risk of being unable to pay rent.

There’s no excuse for tech giants not to maintain their commitments to these workers, especially when those corporations continue to make billions.

Silicon Valley’s tech firms have continued to prosper during the pandemic. The biggest tech companies — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google), and Netflix — have seen stock prices rise over 45% year to date, hitting historic highs and a combined value of over $5.5 trillion. These corporations have also received billions in public subsidies and tax incentives, including at least $654 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds.

These tech companies have a responsibility to maintain their commitments to the people who have worked hard for years to keep tech campuses running safely and smoothly.