SANTA CLARA (BCN) — Cafeteria workers at Intel’s Santa Clara headquarters voted to join the union Unite Here Local 19 on Wednesday, union advocates said.
“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,” Derecka Mehrens, executive director of
Working Partnerships USA, said in a statement.
Working Partnerships USA co-leads Silicon Valley Rising, a campaign to raise pay across low-wage jobs at tech companies in the region.
“This vote brings these workers out of the shadows, and shows how our movement to raise job standards is spreading across the tech sector,” Mehrens said.
Janitors, security officers and shuttle bus drivers at tech firms in the area have already joined unions. Between 1990 and 2014, food service contractor jobs in Silicon Valley have increased by 246 percent, the union advocates said.
“Today marks a turning point for cafeteria workers in Silicon Valley and across the nation. The cafeteria workers at Intel’s Santa Clara campus have faced tremendous obstacles in their fight to form a union, and today, their voices were heard, loud and clear. They want representation,” Ben Field, executive officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, said in a statement.
“This victory is a vital step toward our goal of improving working conditions, wages and benefits for all who work in Silicon Valley’s tech sector,” Field said.
Subcontracted service workers at tech firms are six times more likely to be black or Latino than the engineers and programmers they serve, and on average earn one-sixth the wages, Working Parttnerships USA advocates said.