More than 3,000 security officers who protect Silicon Valley’s booming tech industry just won their union. On Saturday January 28th, security officers, elected officials and community supporters joined together to celebrate the victory.
Silicon Valley is home to a thriving local economy and claims some of the world’s most successful tech companies. Despite this, many security officers are barely paid above minimum wage. Officers began forming their union to raise pay, address diversity problems in the workplace and to improve standards in the industry.
“I’ve been an officer for 32 years protecting some of the most successful tech companies in Silicon Valley. On what I’m paid, I have to choose between getting medical coverage and buying food. It’s not right. I’ve got a family to take care of,” said Officer Jack Harp Jr.
Silicon Valley has a rich history of service workers forming unions on tech campuses, beginning in the early 1990s with the successful Justice for Janitors campaign. Security officers are the latest to join this effort. The officers, with their union SEIU-USWW, have joined in coalition with labor groups, faith and community-based organizations, and other service workers, including shuttle bus drivers. Together, they spearheaded Silicon Valley Rising Silicon Valley Rising — a campaign to inspire tech industry decision-makers to do their part in building a more inclusive and diverse middle class in the region.
Winning their union is a step in that direction. “Diversity is the strength of our communities,” said Assembly Member Evan Low, who attended Saturday’s celebration. Assembly Member Ash Kalra addressed the packed room, “This is not just about 3,000 security officers. It’s about 3,000 families.”
The next steps for officers include sitting down to hammer out a fair contract with the largest security contractors in the region.
“I’ve been a security officer in Silicon Valley for 14 years. I’ve seen the cost of food go up, the cost of rent skyrocket. And with three kids, it’s tough to survive on what we are paid. I’m happy we won our union. It means I won’t have to work two jobs anymore and I’ll get to see my kids. And I’ll be less tired and stressed out when I do see them,” said Officer Rigo Lopez Jr.