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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Win the Lottery or Organize: Traditional and Non-Traditional Labor Organizing in Silicon Valley

  • Author(s): Benner, Chris
  • et al.

The growth and change in high -tech industries in Silicon Valley over the last 20 years has produced a highly bifurcated society, with little social mobility between low and high stratums of the society. The highly unequal occupational structure of high-tech industries, combined with the rise in out-sourcing of rela ted service occupa tions, h a s contributed t o the growing inequality in the region. In this environment, traditional models of labor organizing in the electronics sectors have been ineffective in improving wages and working conditions for low-wage workers. Other, more inn o va tive organizing efforts, ho we ver, have had more success. These newer efforts link organizing in the community with organizing in the workplace, build links between en vironmental justice concerns and work­ place safety and health issues, help break down divisions between the public and private sphere, and bring greater public o versight of private sector employment practices. While these efforts have yet to have a major impact in improving emplo yment prospects for low-wage workers in high-tech industries, they do provide some important insights into potential new forms of labor organizing.

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