The cry for “Union Rights” was heard far and wide on Labor Day 2017 as union members and workers across the country declared it a National Day of Action saying “No” to a rigged economy and a resounding “Yes” to worker’s rights.
For more than a century the holiday has served as a tribute to the contributions workers have made towards the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country. This time workers from Bakersfield to Watsonville and from Fresno to San Jose took a stand to defend their rights to unionize and fight for a better future.
In San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, nearly 500 people marched and rallied in support of the right to join together in a union, all under the common theme of “Silicon Valley Needs Unions.”
The day of action began with a strike and protest at McDonalds in solidarity with the Fight For $15 movement as SEIU Local 521 Chief Elected Officer Riko Mendez proclaimed, “Silicon Valley has experienced strong economic growth for the past five years, yet workers in the service industry and child care sector who are the backbone of our tech economy have not seen any of these economic gains and have been left behind.”
Fast food worker Alejandra Mejia who lives in a shelter with her two young children said sometimes her children do not have enough to eat. Lunch truck worker Sandra Rojas said they work multiple jobs and don’t have enough time with their children.
Boarding numerous buses the protesters marched on Dell Computers in Santa Clara and its janitors criticized the large tech firm for denying its responsibility to provide good jobs by hiding behind a subcontractor.
At the non-profit and publicly-funded Community Child Care Council of Santa Clara, Inc. (4Cs) protestors castigated the agency’s management for their lack of transparency and suspected mismanagement. “We decided to organize because of retaliation against workers,” said Mario Del Castillo, a former case manager and union negotiator who was fired last month. Child care providers joined in support. San Jose Family Child Care Provider Lorena Wright explained, “the cost of living in Silicon Valley continues to skyrocket while providers like me are barely making it by. We care for other people’s children, but struggle to afford healthcare, retirement or provide the basic necessities for our children.”
Jessica Vollmer from Working Partnerships USA and Silicon Valley Rising said “unions are needed so that we can lift up all invisible workers that support this high-tech economy.”
The day of protest and rallies concluded with a barbecue at SEIU 521 headquarters where the cry was heard again, Silicon Valley Needs Unions!