To cheer you up on Labor Day 2014, here are some reports on labor issues from various sources:
Yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out that most tech companies in the Bay Area neither support nor oppose the proposal to raise the minimum wage in San Francisco, because they don’t bother hiring minimum-wage workers in the first place: “Large tech companies, whose workers make an average of $156,581, are mostly indifferent on the issue. They employ few minimum-wage workers, often contracting low-wage positions to outside providers.” [“Low-paying jobs may get a boost,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 31, 2014, p. D1]
Today, an editorial in the San Jose Mercury-News bemoans the disappearance of the middle class. The editors reminds us of the recent news that, to no one’s surprise, tech workers are overwhelmingly male, and white or Asian. Then the editors go on to report that a recent study by Working Partnerships USA, a San Jose organization, found that there is plenty of racial and gender diversity in the maintenance and support staff of Silicon Valley companies: “The ethnic and gender divide parallels the economic divide: the service workers make a fifth of what tech workers make.” [“Middle class’ demise needs our attention,” San Jose Mercury-News, September 1, 2014, p. A11]
Finally, I am reading Oriented to Faith: Transforming the Conflict over Gay Relationships by Tim Otto, a member of the Church of the Sojourners, an intentional Christian community in San Francisco (no connection to Jim Wallis’ Sojourners Magazine). The fifth chapter of Otto’s book is devoted to a theological reflection on how our current economic principles impact our families. He writes: “Consumer capitalism undermines the family by:
“1. Giving us less incentive to create strong families.
“2. Promoting [geographic] mobility, which weakens support for the family.
“3. Training us to see ourselves as consumers and other people as products.”
And if this kind of thing — the demise of the middle class, the sexism and racism of the big tech companies — makes you feel bad, might I suggest that you should go out and buy more consumer goods, which will help keep those low-wage workers in China fully employed. Happy Labor Day!