Issue 11: Let’s not change bosses, let’s change life

03 Aug 2018

This week we celebrate steps forward in our collective workers’ struggle:

On Monday, workers from Google, Facebook, and other tech companies joined security guards at the negotiating table, amplifying their demands for a better contract. While the median salary at Facebook is $240,000 a year, a Silicon Valley security guard typically earns between $13 and $18 per hour, or $27,000 to $37,000 a year

Security guards shouldn’t have to struggle to survive. They shouldn’t have to come in to work sick or live out of their cars, especially not when they put their lives on the line every single day to make our workplaces safer.

“Tech companies should already be at the table negotiating with us, in a sane world,” said Eric Murphy, a security officer who works at Facebook. “Their intentional denial of the responsibility they have for their own employees is the root of the problem. They outsource the delay tactics and workplace issues so it doesn’t look bad for them.”

Security officers at the bargaining table demand to be heard

Security officers at the bargaining table demand to be heard

And on Tuesday, as protesters around the country called on tech companies to #CancelTheContract, we joined approximately 50 protesters outside of Palantir’s Palo Alto office to bring attention to the ways that their secretive surveillance tech fuels the ICE detention machine. (VIDEO)

One protester put it in simple terms: “We demand an end to this inhumanity. Palantir is building the tools of digital fascism being used by the Trump administration to harass, incarcerate and deport immigrants.”

Upcoming Events

Sweep Out the Fascists: A Festival of Resilience + Stop the Hate - Rally in Berkeley
Sunday, 8/5 11AM and 2PM across from North Berkeley BART

Silicon Valley Temps, Vendors and Contractors Roundtable
Wednesday, 8/8 7PM at Unite Here! Local 2 in San Francisco

Seattle TWC Monthly General Meeting
Thursday, 8/9 6:30PM at Seattle Labor Temple Association in Seattle 

Seattle Learning Club: No Wall They Can Build
Saturday, 8/25 3:30PM at Capitol Hill Branch of The Seattle Public Library in Seattle
FacebookReading materials

The Code of Conduct is in effect at all TWC events.

In The News

Facebook claimed to Congress that it had “identified a political influence campaign that was potentially built to disrupt the midterm elections.” However, critics claim that Facebook, aided by the media, has been given a free pass to shut down the pages of left-wing activists.

Sandy Hook parents wrote an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg demanding the company make a better effort to remove conspiracy theories and fake news: “While you implied that Facebook would act more quickly to take down harassment directed at Sandy Hook victims than, say, the posts of Holocaust deniers, that is not our experience. In fact, you went on to suggest that this type of content would continue to be protected and that your idea for combating incendiary content as to provide counterpoints to push ‘fake news’ lower in search results. Of course, this provides no protection to us at all.”

According to internal documents leaked to The Intercept, Google may soon re-launch its search engine — with heavy censorship — in China.

A reminder that the way employers treat contractors today is how we will all be treated tomorrow, once our skills are no longer in demand.

Creator of the Facebook game Battle Pirates, Kixeye, has outsourced its customer support to players of the game in what its Chief Marketing Officer calls an invaluable “gamification of our game”. Support-rep-players are compensated with virtual currency from the game.

Amazon affirms its commitment to build tech for war: “We are unwaveringly in support of our law enforcement, defense, and intelligence community.”

More details emerge on ways Amazon fosters a hostile environment to torture and control its workers.

How stock buybacks screw workers and keep wages stagnant. “Workers around the country have been pushing for higher wages, but the answer is always, ‘We can’t afford it. We’d have to do layoffs or raise prices. That is just not true. The money is there. It’s just getting siphoned out of the company instead of reinvested into it.”

The city of Philadelphia dropped its contract with ICE.

Last Thursday, 10,000 Disneyland workers won a three-year contract that raises wages 20% now and an additional 13% in January following a months-long labor dispute. 

Employee Rights Advocacy Institute For Law & Policy (The NELA Institute) has documented how forced arbitration clauses in contracts silence workers and create a race to the bottom.

In a debate that directly mirrors the tech industry, architects are asking whether making “improvements” to ICE detention centers is sufficient, versus boycotting the work entirely. “Belief in the power of ‘design thinking’ tells us that our buildings and spaces might have some positive effect on politics and the economy, and helps us find meaning in a profession where we work too long for too little. It’s a nice narrative, but it obfuscates the simple truth that politics is about power… Our task is to realize that the power that we do have is not as designers, but as architectural workers who are necessary to the functioning of the construction industry. Individual refusal on ethical grounds is a great start, but it is only through building a critical mass of people who refuse together that we can pressure our professional organizations, employers, and politicians not to accept the status quo.” ✊🏾

Song Of The Week

Gillian Welch Everything Is Free (2001)

Everything is free now
That’s what they say
Everything I ever done
Gotta give it away
Someone hit the big score
They figured it out
That we’re gonna do it anyway
Even if doesn’t pay

I can get a tip jar
Gas up the car
And try to make a little change
Down at the bar

Or I can get a straight job
I’ve done it before
I never minded working hard
It’s who I’m working for