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14 Why Aren't High-Tech Workers Organized? Lessons in Gender, Race, and Nationality from Silicon Valley

1. An earlier, shorter version of this article appears in Common Interests: Women Organising in Global Electronics , ed. Women Working Worldwide (London: Women Working Worldwide, 1991), pp. 36-51. [BACK]

2. For accounts of organizing efforts among women high-tech workers in other countries, see Women Working Worldwide, Common Interests . [BACK]

3. I agree with Chandra Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres, among others, that the term Third World is problematic but perhaps less so than developing countries, postcolonial , and other terms currently in use. See Mohanty, Russo, and Torres, eds., Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), for discussion. [BACK]

4. See Karen J. Hossfeld, "Hiring Immigrant Women: Silicon Valley's Simple Formula," in Women of Color in U.S. Society , ed. Bonnie Thornton Dill and Maxine Baca Zinn (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994), pp. 65-93. [BACK]

5. Karen J. Hossfeld, " Small Foreign, and Female": Profiles of Gender, Race, and Nationality in Silicon Valley (Berkeley: University of California Press, forthcoming). [BACK]

6. Lenny Siegel and Herb Borock, Background Report on Silicon Valley , prepared for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Studies Center, 1982). [BACK]

7. Michael Eisenscher, "Organizing the Shop in Electronics" (paper presented at the West Coast Marxist Scholars Conference, Berkeley, Calif., November 14, 1987). [BACK]

8. "Beyond Unions," Business Week , July 8, 1985, p. 72. Business Week's cover story on declining union strength makes no mention, however, of increasing female membership and its potential ramifications. [BACK]

9. David Sylvester, "Atari Workers Don't Mince Words on State of the Union," San Jose Mercury News , July 25, 1983, p. 1E. [BACK]

10. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings , vol. 34 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, January 1987), Table 61, p. 221. [BACK]

11. Ibid. [BACK]

12. Eisenscher, "Organizing the Shop in Electronics." [BACK]

13. Ray Alvatorres, "Unionizing High Tech," San lose Mercury News , August 3, 1986, p. 4F. [BACK]

14. Ibid. [BACK]

15. Pat Sacco, "The View from the Shop Floor" (paper presented at the West Coast Marxist Scholars Conference, Berkeley, Calif., November 14, 1987). [BACK]

16. For information, contact the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, 760 N. First St., San Jose, Calif., 95112. [BACK]

17. For discussion of the history of the relationship between unions and women workers, see Ruth Milkman, ed., Women, Work, and Protest: A Century of U.S. Women's Labor History (Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985). [BACK]

18. The Mexicana and Chicana workers who engaged in a long and bitter union-coordinated strike at canneries in Watsonville, California, in 1986-1987 are a case in point. They are also a case in point that immigrant women workers can and do organize in labor unions. [BACK]

19. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment and Earnings , vol. 34, Table 59, p. 219. [BACK]

20. Milkman, Women, Work, and Protest ; Ruth Milkman, "Organizing the Sexual Division of Labor: Historical Perspectives on 'Women's Work' and the American Labor Movement," Socialist Review 49 (1980): 95-150; Margaret Cerullo and Roslyn Feldberg, "Women Workers, Feminism, and the Unions," Radical America 18 (September-October 1984): 2-5; Alice Kessler-Harris, Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States (New York: Oxford, 1982); Barbara Wertheimer, We Were There: The Story of Working Women in America (New York: Pantheon, 1977); Richard Freeman and James Medoff, What Do Unions Do? (New York: Basic Books, 1984); Rosalyn Teborg-Penn, "Survival Strategies Among African-American Women Workers: A Continuing Process," in Milkman, Women, Work, and Protest , pp. 139-155. [BACK]

21. The church is perhaps the only potential organizing arena in which large numbers of Silicon Valley's immigrant women of all nationalities participate both because of their own choice and because of family approval. Church involvement is thus an important reality to recognize in any discussion of how, where, and in what forms this group of workers might organize. See Hossfeld, "Hiring Immigrant Women." [BACK]

22. Barbara M. Wertheimer, "The United States of America," in Women and Trade Unions in Eleven Industrialized Countries , ed. Alice H. Cook, Val R. Lorwin, and Arlene Kaplan Daniels (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984), pp. 286-311. [BACK]

23. Karen Hossfeld, "'Their Logic Against Them': Contradictions in Sex, Race, and Class in Silicon Valley," in Women Workers and Global Restructuring , ed. Kathryn Ward (Ithaca: ILR Press, 1990), pp. 149-178. [BACK]

24. San lose Mercury News , July 19, 1987, p. 23A. [BACK]

25. Ibid. Reports were also confirmed by informants. [BACK]

26. The management representative at National Semiconductor contacted about this report was unable to confirm or deny it. [BACK]

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