Silicon Valley Worker Stories Project
The Silicon Valley Workers Stories Project is an initiative led by the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition that captures the experiences of low wage immigrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are the stories of workers in their own voices, sharing their demands for a future built on worker power.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, communities across the country experienced not only a public health crisis but an economic crisis. Santa Clara County was one of the first counties in California hit by rising COVID-19 cases, and the pandemic illuminated the region’s wealth inequality and disparities, built on the backs of the region’s low-wage immigrant workers.
Beginning in April 2020, the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition developed a Worker Stories team to capture the testimonies of workers on the ground, from those in the fast food industry, caregiving, day work, to janitorial staff. In partnership with Stanford for Workers Rights and the UC Davis Bulosan Center for Filipinx Studies, the Worker Stories team consisted of volunteers, students, and workers from across the state and country, and together, we developed a set of interview questions, underwent interview trainings, and transcribed and translated stories from Spanish, Tagalog, and Farsi-speaking workers. As a team, we were in deep conversation with immigrant workers, and listened to their experiences of what they were going through in this time of crisis.
Workers shared many moments of difficulty, from losing their job, being unable to pay for rent, to a lack of access to personal protective equipment at work. At the same time, they also shared their demands for a better future for themselves, their families, and their community. The Worker Stories project exposes the realities of low wage immigrant workers, but also their demands and efforts to build worker power.
We invite students, advocates, and organizations to share these stories and our Coalition report, support grassroots workers organizations, and to continue the fight for immigrant and worker justice.
Wage Theft Report
Wage theft is an epidemic that has cost workers billions of dollars across various industries. In 2014, the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition released their first report documenting the rampant issue of wage theft in the region. The report highlights how wage theft has impacted workers and their families, major enforcement gaps, and policy recommendations for local action.
Six years later, the Coalition has won local and statewide victories in protecting workers from wage theft and other workers rights violations. In the Coalition’s second report, we highlight continuing wage theft trends in Santa Clara County and document worker experiences around wage theft and other workers rights issues.
We focus on other workers rights violations in addition to wage theft because of the intersecting issues workers are experiencing, especially under the COVID-19 pandemic. These issues include retaliation, health and safety in the workplace, immigration, and labor trafficking. In addition, we highlight key advocacy and organizing victories, and propose policy recommendations to build worker power.
In Their Own Words
“It [the pandemic] has created confusion. It created anxiety–more anxiety, because I don’t know what is going to happen. I mean, you’re always afraid to go out, because one thing–at the back of my mind, I don’t have insurance. What if I got sick, right?”Lisa, A Caregiver and Advocate
“We’re very grateful for your interest in us, for the attention you’ve given us. And thank you for not letting us be forgotten.”Anonymous
Resources for Workers
Do you have a COVID-19 concern at your workplace? Are you experiencing reduced hours and have questions? You can call the Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement Advice hotline at 1 866 870 7725 for support.
Joining an Organization
Looking to get involved with an immigrant and workers rights organization in Santa Clara County? Learn more about our Coalition member organizations on the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition Website to learn more about getting involved.
Santa Clara County has gathered a list of resources on where to find financial assistance, food, and other services. You can learn more about local resources here.
Sign Up & Join the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition Mailing List Here