Thousands of security guards for some of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies ratified their first union contract over the weekend.
The contract comes after more than five years of organizing and bargaining with four security contractors that provide guards for Facebook, Google, Genentech and others, the Service Employees International Union announced Monday. The group, consisting of 3,000 security officers, is the largest group of service workers to unionize in Silicon Valley, union spokesman Stephen Boardman said.
Many of the guards were making starting wages of $12 to $14 an hour and will see immediate wage increases of up to $1.20 an hour by January, the union said. The guards also negotiated improved health care benefits, and secured paid holidays for the first time.
Silicon Valley tech companies employ some of the highest-wage workers in the Bay Area. But the workers who guard, clean and serve food at the companies’ shiny headquarters have long struggled to make ends meet in a high-priced region.
In June, dozens of security guards protested their “poverty-level” wages in San Jose. Some of them said they were homeless and living in their cars.
Eric Murphy, a security guard for Facebook for subcontractor Allied Universal, said Monday that despite the gains the union gained through bargaining with the contractors, more work needs to be done.
“I think Facebook is still failing to meet its responsibilities to the community,” Murphy said. “Our next step now is to go to them directly.”
Facebook has not responded to a request for comment Monday. In the past, the company has said employing certain workers through contractors is “standard for our industry.”
This story will be updated.