Cafeteria workers at Intel headquarters in Santa Clara, CA, raised new concerns about their working conditions earlier this month, concerns that are just the latest in a long string of complaints from organizational efforts attempting to unionize contract employees around Silicon Valley.
The cafeteria staffers at Intel, who are employed as contractors through North Carolina-based dining services company Eurest, claims that they are restricted from using restroom facilities except during scheduled breaks.
If true, the company would be in violation of California labor laws, which stipulate that bathroom access must be available to employees “at all times.”
Though the contracting of dining staff through Eurest means that cafeteria workers are not direct employees of Intel, the company is still taking the allegations seriously. William Moss, spokesperson for Intel, told USA Today that they expect all suppliers to abide by the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition Code of Conduct, which explicitly mandates that “Workers are to be provided with ready access to clean toilet facilities.”
Moss added, “Intel prides itself on maintaining safe and clean facilities. Eurest has assured us that it is looking into the allegations and will keep us informed.”
While those toilets might still be cleaner than the average worker’s desk, the disparity in treatment between Intel employees and contracted work staff has long been a concern of labor union organizations who have tried in vain to unionize the Eurest workers at Intel.
Employees of Intel receive many perks and benefits, like flexible hours and free food, but the workers preparing that food are subject to low wages and mistreatment.
Previous protests by Eurest workers include a petition for “a fair process to enable us to exercise our right to organize and form a union without threats and intimidation.” Eurest offered a $1/hour wage raise to cease demonstrations, but reneged when workers persisted.
The current round of complaints also maintains that workers have faced corporate retaliation for their efforts to unionize and were asked to remove union buttons from their uniforms.