Trending: Service Workers Rising Up in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley security officer Michael Johnson

Silicon Valley security officer Michael Johnson

Security officers were catapulted onto the national stage this week with big-time mentions in everything from a radio story about working class struggles to a speech by likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Clinton’s words, in particular, reverberated in the halls of a conference attended by leaders of many Silicon Valley tech companies. She referenced the security officers’ campaign as an example of a “movement stirring across the nation” to build an economy that works for everyone—not just a wealthy few.

Recent victories by security officers at Google and bus drivers at Facebook might give a reason why influential leaders and media outlets are starting to take notice of organizing efforts in Silicon Valley. The region could one day emerge as a model of unlimited opportunity where tech companies and service workers can both rise together.

But until then, lots of obstacles stand in the way of a more broadly prosperous Silicon Valley. As Michael Johnson explained to KQED, many security jobs pay so little that security officers struggle to provide for their families and afford a roof over their heads. The latest findings from a Joint Venture Silicon Valley study reinforces Michael’s experience: nearly 30% of Silicon Valley residents do not make enough money to meet their most basic needs.

The good news is that service workers have identified a solution to this imbalance in the region: a commitment to responsible contracting by tech giants like Apple, whose leadership can pave the way to better economic opportunities for all.

At the end of the day, security contractors answer to their tech clients above all else. As Michael put it, “The truth of the matter is, [tech companies] determine how much we earn. They determine our benefits. They determine the whole thing.”

With tech firms like Apple setting record profits in the tens of billions, Michael had a strong parting message for big tech: “When are you going to open the door for the rest of us?” Read more about the service workers who are rising up in Silicon Valley here and here.

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