Responsible Contracting in the Tech Industry
Across the tech industry, tens of thousands of subcontracted workers—including janitors, cafeteria workers, security officers, and shuttle drivers—go to work every day at tech companies, providing support that allows the industry to thrive. Although they work side by side with directly-employed tech workers, they are not afforded the same job security, workplace safety, and respect on the job.
As the tech industry drives an economic boom in the Bay Area, inequality is increasing. One recent study found that, while tech workers here have the nation’s highest disposable income, the Bay Area is the worst region in the country to be a service worker, as skyrocketing rents outpace stubbornly low, stagnant wages. This divide often falls along racial lines, with blue-collar subcontracted service workers nearly six times more likely to be black or Latino than their directly-employed tech colleagues.
Even beyond low wages, far too many service workers lack access to a safe and secure workplace. In the face of issues including health violations, wage theft, sexual harassment, and discrimination, service workers too often find themselves with little recourse to address abuses. And despite their widely differing circumstances, the past year’s highly-publicized efforts of directly-employed tech workers and white-collar contractors to demand greater respect on the job suggest that all of these employees share common ground in the pursuit of a workplace where their voices are truly heard.
That’s why TechEquity Collaborative and Silicon Valley Rising are announcing our Responsible Contracting Project, which will provide a practical definition of a family-supporting job with safe and dignified working conditions for service workers on tech campuses.
The Five Pillars of Responsible Contracting
Democracy in the workplace is critical for workers’ rights. We call for service workers to have the ability to weigh in on their conditions and contracts.
Workers need schedules that are dependable and reasonable. We call for contracting companies to provide regular and fair scheduling to all of their workers.
In the face of issues including health violations, wage theft, sexual harassment, and discrimination, service workers too often find themselves with little recourse to address abuses. We call for material worker protections and accountability measures to be implemented.
Service and contract workers are working in regions they can’t afford to live in. We call for contracting companies to pay their workers wages and benefits that enable workers and their families to lead healthy and stable lives.
It’s clear that our onramps to high-paying jobs in tech need to be more equitable. Service and contracted workers are an incredibly diverse workforce, and should be provided opportunities to level up and access the high-paying jobs that their coworkers enjoy.