Photo essay: Silicon Valley janitors go on strike against Yahoo!, Cisco

Photos and text by David Bacon

Mountain View, California, May 20, 2008 -- Silicon Valley janitors, mostly immigrants from Mexico and Central America, walked out of Cisco Systems and Yahoo buildings in the first day of a Bay Area-wide strike intended to force building service contractors to sign a new agreement with their union, Service Employees Local 1877.

The union represents more than 6000 janitors in the San Francisco area, whose wages are not even half what the Economic Policy Institute says it takes to meet basic needs for a family of four, or $54,000 annually. It takes more than 77% of a Bay Area janitor's wages to rent a one-bedroom apartment in San Jose.

LA/Orange County janitors just signed a new contract after a one-day strike, and now have to work only six months to become eligible for medical care. In the Bay Area it takes 2.5 years. Silicon Valley's wealthy corporations could do the right thing, but are so far choosing to leave hardworking families struggling to make ends meet, said Mike Garcia, president of Local 1877.

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For more articles and images on immigration, see

Coming in September, 2008, from Beacon Press: Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants

See also the photodocumentary on indigenous migration to the US Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)

See also The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)