Silicon Valley tech security guards to get raises after ratifying first union contract

Thousands of security guards for some of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies ratified their first union contract over the weekend.

The contract comes after more than five years of organizing and bargaining with four security contractors that provide guards for Facebook, Google, Genentech and others, the Service Employees International Union announced Monday. The group, consisting of 3,000 security officers, is the largest group of service workers to unionize in Silicon Valley, union spokesman Stephen Boardman said.

Many of the guards were making starting wages of $12 to $14 an hour and will see immediate wage increases of up to $1.20 an hour by January, the union said. The guards also negotiated improved health care benefits, and secured paid holidays for the first time.

Silicon Valley tech companies employ some of the highest-wage workers in the Bay Area. But the workers who guard, clean and serve food at the companies’ shiny headquarters have long struggled to make ends meet in a high-priced region.

In June, dozens of security guards protested their “poverty-level” wages in San Jose. Some of them said they were homeless and living in their cars.

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Eric Murphy, a security guard for Facebook for subcontractor Allied Universal, said Monday that despite the gains the union gained through bargaining with the contractors, more work needs to be done.

“I think Facebook is still failing to meet its responsibilities to the community,” Murphy said. “Our next step now is to go to them directly.”

Facebook has not responded to a request for comment Monday. In the past, the company has said employing certain workers through contractors is “standard for our industry.”

This story will be updated.

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Elon Musk: Saudis have role in plan to take Tesla private

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk on Monday sought to answer some questions about how his company would finance his proposal to take the electric carmaker private, saying that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund will likely play a role in Musk’s $420-a-share buyout plan.

In a blog post Monday morning, Musk said officials with the Saudi fund first approached him in early 2017 about the possibility of Tesla going private, and that the fund has had “several meetings” with Musk since then to discuss how taking Tesla private could become a reality. Musk said the fund expressed interest Tesla going private as part of its strategy to diversify its investments away from oil.

Musk threw Wall Street for a curve on Aug. 7, when he tweeted out his proposal to take Tesla private at $420 a share, and added some mystery by saying “Funding secured” without providing details. That has led to a lot of speculation, and a lawsuit accusing him and Tesla of securities fraud.

Musk said Monday that he met with the Saudi fund’s managing director on July 31, and that he left that meeting “with no question that a deal with the Saudi sovereign fund could be closed, and that it was just a matter of getting the process moving. This is why I referred to ‘funding secured’ in the August 7th announcement.”

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Musk also confirmed that the Saudi fund has acquired a 5 percent stake in Tesla, which is currently worth between $2 billion and $5 billion.

Tesla’s board of directors will reportedly meet this week with financial advisers to discuss plan to take the company private. The directors last week said they …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Rent control fuels costliest fight on California 2018 ballot

By SOPHIA BOLLAG | The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — A Los Angeles-based health care nonprofit known for funding controversial ballot measures is waging an expensive battle with the real estate industry over rent control in California.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has poured more than $12 million into a November initiative it’s spearheading to let cities and counties regulate rental fees in buildings that state law currently shields from such control.

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A $10 million contribution the foundation reported Wednesday made the initiative the most expensive on the 2018 ballot so far.

Started in 1987 to provide hospice care to AIDS patients, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has grown into a global health care organization similar in size to Planned Parenthood. The group also has waded into politics, bankrolling measures ranging from prescription drug pricing to housing policy, as well as lobbying at the state and federal level.

Supporters say the rent control measure will protect low-income people from being priced out of their homes, while opponents argue it will decrease housing supply in a state facing a severe shortage.

Opponents have raised $22 million, mostly from rental companies and the California Association of Realtors.

The measure would repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a law that banned rent control on single-family homes and all housing built after Feb. 1, 1995. Costa-Hawkins also prohibits cities and counties from telling landlords what they can charge new renters. Legislative efforts since to expand rent control, including one this legislative session, have failed.

Real estate industry groups and other rent control opponents spent more than $10 million lobbying California officials last year on a Costa-Hawkins repeal bill and other issues.

Tenant groups can’t afford to challenge the industry …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


How to find and delete where Google knows you’ve been

Even if you have “Location History” off, Google often stores your precise location . Here’s how to delete those markers and some best-effort practices that keep your location as private as possible.

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But there’s no panacea, because simply connecting to the internet on any device flags an IP address that can be geographically mapped. Smartphones also connect to cell towers, so your carrier knows your general location at all times.


For any device:

Fire up your browser and go to (You’ll need to be logged into Google) On the upper left drop-down menu, go to “Activity Controls.” Turn off both “Web & App Activity” and “Location History.” That should prevent precise location markers from being stored to your Google account.

Google will warn you that some of its services won’t work as well with these settings off. In particular, neither the Google Assistant, a digital concierge, nor the Google Home smart speaker will be particularly useful.

On iOS:

If you use Google Maps, adjust your location setting to “While Using” the app; this will prevent the app from accessing your location when it’s not active. Go to Settings Privacy Location Services and from there select Google Maps to make the adjustment.

In the Safari web browser, consider using a search engine other than Google. Under Settings Safari Search Engine, you can find other options like Bing or DuckDuckGo. You can turn location off while browsing by going to Settings Privacy Location Services Safari Websites, and turn this to “Never.” (This still won’t prevent advertisers from knowing your rough location based on IP address on any website).

You can also turn Location Services off to the device almost completely …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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