janitor.jpgThe tech titans in Silicon Valley don’t seem to care that the people cleaning their lavish offices make insanely low wages in one of the most expensive places on earth.

The average pay for Silicon Valley tech workers is the highest in the country, but the janitors there make way less than their counterparts in places like New York and Chicago. Case in point, New York’s janitors make $25.25 an hour compared to $11.04 in Silicon Valley.

This is outrageous. In a place like Silicon Valley such wages are near poverty.

And, you’re probably not going to believe this, it takes two and a half years before they are eligible for health insurance. Can you imagine starting a new job and being told you have to wait two plus years?

Not surprisingly the janitors overwhelmingly authorized a strike over the weekend.

From the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday:

Janitors who clean offices in Silicon Valley and Alameda and Contra Costa counties voted Saturday to authorize a strike after contract talks with management representatives broke down over wages and health benefits.

As many as 6,000 janitorial workers, members of Service Employees International Union Local 1877, could go out on strike at any time after Saturday’s nearly unanimous vote in San Jose, Gina Bowers, a spokeswoman for the union, said.

From the employer side:

Jim Beard, chief negotiator for the cleaning contractors, said workers were offered wages and benefits that added up to an additional $3 over four years.

“We think this is a pretty good deal,” Beard said. “It covers the increasing costs of health and welfare.”

It’s a disgrace how we divvy up wealth in this country. The disparity in pay among the top and bottom half of our society has been widening more and more each year.

From CBS News earlier this month:

There have always been “haves” and “have-nots” in the United States, but over the past three decades, the gap between them has gotten a lot wider, statistics from congressional numbers crunchers show.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, income for the bottom half of American households rose six percent since 1979 but, through 2005, the income of the top one percent skyrocketed - by 228 percent.

No where is this chasm more pronounced that among the elite, so-called enlightened on the West Coast in this more than golden tech hub we all know as Silicon Valley.

Maybe Google’s founders and all those other tech executives who have more money than they know what do with need to start putting pressure on the contractors they hire to treat workers fairly.

google-founders.jpgGoogle’s founders are now worth about $18 billion each. It may be a good time for them to remember when they were broke and working out of a garage.

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