As millions of Americans pay our taxes today, Bay Area security officers and community supporters called on Apple Inc. to pay taxes on some of an estimated $102 billion the company is holding overseas. Activists gathered outside a San Francisco Apple store and encouraged customers to participate in a mock $15 billion “mail-in rebate” spoof to highlight how the company’s unpaid tax revenues could build a stronger Bay Area community.
“The Bay Area is our home,” says security officer Mike Mally, a member of Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW). “It’s Apple’s home too. At the end of the day we all live together. We all have a responsibility to keep the place up.”
Over the years American and Bay Area taxpayers have built a world-class infrastructure that Apple relies on every day to generate profits. It includes not only highways, bridges, and public transit but also schools, universities, satellite systems, courts, banks, stock markets, telecommunications, patent protection, and scientific, computer, and internet research. Thanks to these public resources, between 2000 and 2012, Apple profits have risen by a whopping 5,209 percent to more than $41 billion a year.
Meanwhile, between 2000 and 2012, median worker income in Silicon Valley has fallen by 12 percent. The middle class is shrinking. The public resources our communities depend on—police and fire protection, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, unemployment insurance, disease control, and public housing—have all been depleted.
“The truth is that when it comes to public infrastructure, tech companies are more than just our neighbors,” says Gordon Mar, Executive Director of Jobs with Justice. “For better or for worse, tech companies are our roommates. And we all want people to have good jobs and schools and be healthy and safe. We want the system to run smoothly. We’re all living under one Bay Area roof.”
Recently fast food workers across the country have made headlines through their call for “$15 and a union.” As the “Fight for $15” has ramped up, more than 5,000 Silicon Valley security officers have also been coming together to form a union. Bay Area security officers have repeatedly called on Apple to use a responsible security contractor that will support good, full-time jobs and allows its workers the freedom to form a union in order to win a contract that will allow families to thrive and succeed.
At the national level several organizations have called on Apple and other profitable corporations to repatriate earnings held overseas and contribute to America’s upkeep. But Washington has failed to act. Bay Area security officers and community supporters are calling on Apple to pay taxes on $15 billion, a small portion—the Bay area’s portion—of Apple’s $102 billion overseas cash. Bringing $15 billion home would result in $5 billion in tax revenue to bolster our sagging public infrastructure.