Since the late 20th century, Silicon Valley has been so closely associated with the concept of innovation that the very notion of unionization has seemed almost anachronistic. We embody the new economy, you could practically hear the region's defenders proclaim. Unionization is so passe!
In July, more than 500 cafeteria workers employed at Facebook decided to unionize so that they could receive higher wages, better benefits and fairer hours. After talking with the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), factory workers at Tesla also sent a strongly worded letter to management, one that primarily addressed what they claim are abnormally high injury rates.
"We urge you to make our safety your priority as board members, to demand information from management about health and safety issues in the factory, and to hold management accountable to best practices," the letter declared.
So is this a rising trend?
"Absolutely!" said Maria Noel Fernandez, campaign director at Silicon Valley Rising, in an email to Salon. "Since we launched Silicon Valley Rising three years ago, around 5,000 service workers for tech giants like Facebook, Intel, and Apple have organized for better wages, decent working conditions, and a voice on the job."
David A. Judd, a volunteer at Tech Workers Coalition (TWC), pointed out that the unionization trend will ultimately have a positive impact on the lives of men and women who suffer from income inequality within Silicon Valley's tech industries.