For decades, the high technology economy in Silicon Valley has eroded the region’s middle class, distributing income in an hourglass shape that leaves massive numbers of workers trapped at the bottom in low wage, dead end, service occupations. A “next generation” living wage policy in the county government would change this picture for thousands of workers and their families. The County directly employs over 12,000 staff – second in the region only to Cisco Systems – and procures over $2.5 billion in goods and services per year.
The proposed policy will set a standard for employees of the County, its contractors and its subsidy recipients, including not only wages but also earned sick leave and other key economic security provisions. With the level state and local government procurement at roughly $1.5 trillion every year nationally, the public sector is a critical industry in which to take action to redefine “living wage” to include the full complement of quality job standards.