Ruling on Newby Island Workers’ Case Ripples into Tech Industry

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August 27, 2015                                                                                             408.606-2060

Today, Silicon Valley’s contracted workers achieved a victory of national proportions with the “joint employer” ruling handed down by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). What started as contracted workers in a Milpitas, California waste plant fighting against abuse has resulted in a historic ruling that will dramatically alter contract employment. Today’s decision makes it illegal for companies to shift the responsibility for their workforce to contractors, holding them accountable for the wages and working conditions of their temporary or contracted employees.

In 2013, Teamsters Local 350 brought this Newby Island case to light by filing a suit against Browning-Ferris Industries, part of Republic Services, the country’s second largest waste management company. Among other things, Republic used a temp agency to attempt to dodge the living wage ordinance in San Jose, shortchanging 193 waste sorting workers $2.6 million and counting.

“This new standard will give workers who are often denied their basic rights and forced to work in deplorable conditions a voice. Companies will now find it much harder to use subcontracting as a primary tool to drive down wages, drive inequality up and shut down worker organizing,” said Ben Field, Executive Officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council.  “It is high time that these multi-million dollar companies be held accountable for the conditions of their workers.”

The ruling gives momentum to the organizing happening in Silicon Valley and across the country. The NLRB decision comes less than a week after Google Express employees, who are temp workers with Adecco, voted to join The Teamsters. Now millions of contract workers, many of whom provide services in the local tech industry, can take their concerns right to the doorstep of tech companies when they bargain for better pay, benefits and working conditions.

“This ruling has major implications for the tech industry. The security officers, janitors, shuttle drivers, cafeteria workers, and landscapers – tech’s Black and Latino workforce-are mostly temps or subcontracted. Now big companies like Google, Apple and Facebook are responsible for making sure those are good jobs with fair wages. No more hiding,” said Derecka Mehrens, Executive Director, Working Partnerships USA and leader in the Silicon Valley Rising coalition.

“This decision will provide justice to workers who have been tirelessly fighting for fairness in the workplace,” said Larry Daugherty, principal officer of Teamsters Local 350. “We are proud to have supported and stood by these workers who wanted to have the right to organize without fear of retaliation. With today’s announcement, workers are better equipped to improve their workplace treatment and earn a fair wage with benefits.”

“The National Labor Relations Board’s decision has dramatically leveled the playing field for our fast food workers,” said Luisa Blue, SEIU 521 Chief Elected Officer. “These incredibly hard working individuals do not deserve to receive substandard treatment from fast food corporations simply because they are at a franchise. All employees deserve to work in safe conditions, receive just compensation, and be treated with dignity.”

The NLRB’s ruling is widely expected to permanently change the landscape for contracted workers.  No longer can an employer use a contracting company to circumvent the law and subject its employees to substandard treatment and unfair wages. Temp and contracted employees can have a seat at the table that has been denied to them for decades.


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  1. Pingback: What Does the Newby Island Worker’s Case Mean for Silicon Valley Employees? | Ames Federal Employees Union

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