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Silicon Valley’s low-wage mess: How Apple was forced to revamp its subcontracting scheme

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Labor activists were planning a rude welcome for the select few invited to the launch of Apple’s highly anticipated smartwatch in San Francisco on Monday, March 9. Protesters from SEIU-United Service Workers West (USWW), a union of janitors, security officers, airport and property service workers in California, have become a fixture at major tech industry events, where they picket and call on Silicon Valley’s largest corporations to be good corporate citizens and adopt better working standards for subcontracted security guards. “We’re going to show up and tell them what the next big thing from Apple ought to be: good jobs for service workers in tech,” announced a Facebook event page for the protest.  But Monday’s protest has been canceled. “As much as we enjoy getting out on the streets,” said Sanjay Garla, the organizing director of SEIU-USWW, “we try to reward companies doing the right thing.”

In this case, doing the right thing was Apple upending its relationship with Security Industry Specialists (SIS), a security guard subcontractor the union has criticized for union-busting tactics and retaliation. On Tuesday, the San Jose Mercury News reported that Apple plans to bring its security guard services in house. Apple will directly hire guards from among the workers currently provided by the subcontractor, and the new employees will be largely full-time, with access to the same benefits as other Apple workers, including “full health insurance, retirement contributions, and leave for new parents, among other benefits.” Apple will still employ subcontracted security guards for “special events.”  “We welcome Apple’s decision to take responsibility for the women and men who protect its campus,” said SEIU-USWW president David Huerta in a statement. “This decision is a victory for Silicon Valley security officers who are rising up to fix the imbalance in our economy by securing dignified, full-time work and respect on the job.”  (click on link to read full story)

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