Silicon Valley sparks the imagination. Its wealth of tech jobs, flashy startups and new media goliaths seems to point toward a better future, beyond post-industrial doldrums and slack labor markets. Work on Google’s idyllic Mountain View campus hardly looks like work at all.
But some Google employees are less equal than others. (Not everyone gets to ride the clown bikes.) Many of Silicon Valley’s blue-collar jobs are outsourced to subcontractors, a practice common with Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and other big tech firms. Usually the lowest bidder gets the contract, and in labor intensive industries such as security, food service, janitorial and landscaping the lower bids tend to come from firms with lower labor standards.
Security Industry Specialists, Inc (SIS) provides hundreds of security contractors to both Google and Apple. (SIS did not respond to interview requests or questions about the exact number of guards the two companies employ.) Tom Seltz, co-president of SIS, claims that the company offers $15 an hour for entry level employees, plus benefits for full-time workers: “We pay 80 percent of the healthcare premium, 100 percent of dental, and these employees have access to a 401k plan in which we match a portion of contributions.”