Cleaning Up

The ongoing janitors’ strike at several high-profile Silicon Valley companies is leading some to call for a so-called living wage law.

Last week, stewards at Cisco, H-P and other major tech companies walked out, demanding higher wages and quicker access to health care. The going rate for a janitor in the Valley is about $11 an hour, and workers wait a reported 2-1/2 years for health care benefits to begin.

As Mercury News columnist Mike Cassidy opines today, what Silicon Valley’s big tech companies need is a living wage law, which he defines as “an internal company rule that says if you work at Intel, or Cisco Systems, or Yahoo, or Google, or any of the other big firms, you’ll make enough money to care for yourself and your family. No matter whether you’re on the company payroll or whether the company outsources your work.”

One representative of the striking union members said the janitors make about $23,000 a year.

Not sure I would want that legislated, but the estimated cost per Silicon Valley company would be about $3,750 a year per janitor. The p.r. hit would cost much more than that.

May 28 update: That was quick. A resolution was reached today.

Ed. note: A very warm welcome to Ron Lasky, better known as “Dr. Ron,” who joins us as a regular columnist and blogger. Ron has a doctorate in materials science from Cornell, is a visiting professor at Dartmouth and is a senior technologist at Indium. His first post is here.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow