The Rev. Jesse Jackson has written to Apple CEO Tim Cook to urge the company to create “world-class working conditions” for low-paid contractors like security guards, requesting a meeting with Cook to discuss the issue, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

The paper reports a growing debate about the widespread use of contract workers by tech companies for low-paid roles, contract staff having none of the protections or perks afforded to direct employees … 

The contrast with often highly-paid tech employees is, says the paper, stark.

Contract workers […] do everything from driving shuttle buses to cooking in the cafeteria. But as the tech workers they serve are showered with eye-popping perks, service workers often struggle to make ends meet in the pricey Bay Area, advocates say.

Rev. Jackson has expressed concerns about the way in which Apple’s security guards are treated by contractors Security Industry Specialists. While SIS pays above-average wages for the work, guards say that unstable hours and high staff turnover make for a poor working environment.

Jackson praised Apple’s leadership on issues like gay rights and the environment, and said that ensuring equitable treatment of service workers was another issue where the company could set a high standard.

Part of the narrative of their firm is equitable and first-class leadership. As they grow at such a rapid pace, they should have world-class working conditions for their workers from the bottom up.

Google, which previously used the same contractors for its security guards, last month announced that it will in future employ its guards directly, giving them the same benefits as other Google employees.

Tim Cook tweeted earlier this month that Apple had achieved a 100% score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for the 13th year in a row. Apple issues an annual Supplier Responsibility Progress Report on working conditions among its supply-chain partners, but this focuses on contractors outside the US.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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