South Bay Labor Council members enjoy annual Labor Day picnic

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A lot of people with the South Bay Labor Council are enjoying the annual Labor Day picnic in San Jose on Monday.

They have a lot to celebrate since tech-strong Silicon Valley is enjoying a rapid growth in jobs.

This picnic is not just a commemoration of Labor Day, it's also a celebration of organized labor in the South Bay. "We appreciate everything that everyone has done in the past to give us the stuff we have now, today," Amalgamated Transit Union Member Charles Brown said.

"Unions fight for a living wage. They fight for housing. They fight for healthcare," SEIU member Elizabeth Martinez said.

This event is in its third year and continues to grow.

Ben Field with the South Bay Labor Council says there's more work to be done. "To call on high-tech companies to treat all of their workers, including their contract workers fairly and that effort is really gaining momentum," Field said.

One of the major victories this year is the decision by tech shuttle bus drivers to join the Teamsters Union, a move that has met little opposition from Silicon Valley tech giants. "They have, in some cases I personally know, encouraged the contract agencies to up the pay, provide at least some healthcare benefits and the like and none of them have tried to oppose the union," US Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said.

That win has helped highlight a growing gap in the Bay Area between some of the richest companies in the world and some of their poorest workers.

These unions say their mission is to push for labor laws benefiting everyone, but labor experts say that effort is getting more complicated in part because Bay Area companies also keep churning out apps that expand the so-called sharing economy.
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