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Push To Unionize Workers In Silicon Valley Gaining Traction

SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) – For decades, calls to unionize workers in Silicon Valley have fallen on deaf ears. Recently, unions are finding success in organizing shuttle drivers, security guards and other low-wage workers.

On Tuesday, workers staged a protest outside the Silicon Valley headquarters of Citrix. They targeted the Santa Clara software company to put pressure on security contractor Universal Protection Service, which workers blame for poverty wages and anti-union tactics.

Silicon Valley labor unions have been beating the drum on issues like this for decades, but their efforts have only begun to gain traction.

South Bay Labor Council president Ben Field said, "Silicon Valley is the place that more than any other illustrates the problem of income inequality in this country."

Field said it's the workers themselves that are taking on the big Silicon Valley giants, and winning. "I think the tide has been turning. I think there is growing public sentiment in favor or policies and business practices that benefit working families," he told KPIX 5.

Apple has just agreed to make its security guards staff employees providing them with better wages and benefits, instead of hiring them from an outside contractor.

And bus drivers for Apple, Google and other big tech firms who work for Compass Transportation recently voted to join the Teamsters Union, which could boost wages from $19.50 an hour, to $27.50 an hour.

Tommy Leyva says that may finally enable him to get out of a shared living arrangement and into a place of his own.

"Most of the drivers are living paycheck to paycheck. And we're hoping to be able to live comfortably, buy houses, cars, things like that. Ordinary, everyday bills and not have to struggle," Leyva said.

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