This report is intended to take an in-depth look at the dimensions of income inequality (referred to throughout this report as “inequality”) in Silicon Valley and key trends over time. The report begins by addressing why income inequality should matter to Silicon Valley, followed by an analysis of trends in widening income inequality over the long term and in the most recent period. An analysis of long-term trends over the past 25 years (1989-2014) shows that widening income inequality is not just a recent phenomenon in Silicon Valley. At the same time focusing on just the most recent period for which data are available (2009-2014) reveals that trends in widening income inequality have been exacerbated even as the region has recovered from the Great Recession. The combination of long- and short-term trends point to the need for public policy responses that combat these trends, help mitigate the effects of increasing economic insecurity, and create a foundation for sustainable economic growth. This report highlights areas for state and local policy action to help ensure that households across the income distribution beneﬁt more from Silicon Valley’s economic growth, while investing in housing options and transportation networks that better help these families live and thrive in the region.
Our research found the dire working conditions of port truck drivers to have flowed from the practice of treating employees as if they were ‘independent contractors,’ an illegal practice called misclassification. At the time of our first report, there were practically no official government investigations to verify our findings despite a host of enforcement agencies being responsible for preventing misclassification.
That has now changed. Our findings match those coming from recent investigations of employment practices common in the industry by the United States Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, the National Labor Relations Board, and various state agencies. More importantly, these investigations signal a new dynamic, one with practical ramifications for the organization of work in the industry as well as for broader discussions of inequality in this country.
Poverty jobs in LA’s hotels are exacerbating the problem of poverty throughout the city. Workplace standards for tens of thousands of LA’s hotel workers remain among the lowest of the city’s major employment sectors. Hotel workers are a key piece of LA’s highly successful tourism industry, but maintaining standards for workers has been largely ignored as hotel operators have focused intensely on boosting their bottom lines by increasing worker productivity.
Establishing a minimum wage for workers in LA’s large hotels will directly address the problem of growing poverty in the city of Los Angeles and will stimulate our local economy by an estimated $71 million per year in increased local consumer spending and related economic activity.
The trucking system at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is broken. As currently structured, this industry fails workers, businesses, neighbors, and anyone who breathes the air and drives the highways in Southern California. Port trucking is a chaotic, fragmented market, dominated by hundreds of tiny, undercapitalized motor carriers and brokers who earn profits only by undercutting market standards, creating a race to the bottom. Motor carriers at the Ports overwhelmingly misclassify drivers as
independent contractors rather than employees, allowing the trucking companies to disclaim responsibility for the conditions of the drivers and their trucks.
The key to solving this long-festering problem lies in the Ports’ role as landlords and proprietors of these valuable public assets. The Ports have an interest in clean, safe, sustainable growth, as well as a stable and secure Port complex and a continuing source of revenue. The Ports can achieve these goals by entering into a direct contractual relationship with responsible motor carriers who meet higher standards. This market-based approach will ensure fair competition based on efficiency and quality of service.
This report examines the benefits to workers and communities of a Clean Trucks Program.