Silicon Valley’s blue-collar workers remain on edge months into pandemic

The report found that while most major tech companies have kept their thousands of service workers for now, particularly those who are unionized, the future remains uncertain. Some companies, like Verizon, Genentech and LinkedIn, have halted contracts with their service contractors, which have, in turn, already laid people off.

According to the group’s research, about 14,000 unionized workers across Silicon Valley serve as cafeteria staffers, janitors, security officers and bus drivers, among other positions. Such jobs are a “lifeline for communities of color,” it found.

Nearly two-thirds are Black or Latino, and collectively they are estimated to earn $538 million annually, the report found. Typically, they do not work directly for tech giants but instead for one of a slew of third-party contracting companies. These workers do not have the option of working at home. They also realize that if they lose their jobs, there are far fewer jobs they can find, instead.

“There is an uncertainty for these workers — they don’t know how long that will last,” said Louise Auerhahn, the director of economic and workforce policy at Working Partnerships USA, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

Many large tech companies have continued to take in huge profits as the economy falters. Last month, Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Facebook reported combined quarterly net profits of $38 billion. LinkedIn’s parent company, Microsoft, made nearly $14 billion in profit during the third quarter of 2020.

But what is certain is that these workers have few alternatives if their jobs go away — especially work that carries benefits. A married couple featured in the report, Madeleine and Francisco Rivera, say their salaries — $26.72 and $22.60 per hour, respectively — have remained vital to their family, which supports their toddler-age son, August. Their employer, Compass Group, which provides food service to Google, pays their health insurance premiums. Read more via NBCNews