05 Oct 2018
On Wednesday, Tech Workers Coalition was recognized by Working Partnerships USA with a Solidarity Champion Award for organizing a movement inside the tech industry to demand transparency and justice for workers, immigrants, and communities affected by tech near and far. Read on for the full remarks from the courageous TWC volunteer who took the stage to accept the award:
On behalf of the Tech Workers Coalition, I’d like to thank you for this solidarity award, and I’d like to thank everyone in attendance for partnering with Silicon Valley Rising and other WPUSA programs to help shape the Bay Area’s relationship with labour.
Silicon Valley has always been a place of dreams and high ideals; for a century and more families would travel here from all the corners of the Earth to work their hardest, and seek better lives for themselves and their children. As it was then, so it is now — our little corner of paradise here on Earth is to this day the Gold Rush land, the point where humanity’s endless ambition met the sea and never fully settled down. Always hoping, always dreaming that there was something more to explore, something greater to build.
But dreams, and high ideals, and hope fade too easily into indolence and blind faith in the never-ending march of Progress. The infinite possibilities offered by technology have sharply dwindled to ever greater inequality, ever greater bias now encoded in algorithms that rule our every interaction with each other, and ever greater marginalization of those who do not write software or manage those who do. What was once such a liberating force has now become more demoralizing and terrifying with each passing day.
There is a light in the darkness, though. Being involved in the union drives for service workers lately have been a radicalizing experience for all of us. Seeing these workers fighting for their ability to survive and thrive in an increasingly hostile world, standing shoulder to shoulder for livable wages and a voice on the job — raising those voices in demands for dignity, demands to live near families, hearing demands for insurance to stay alive and enjoy this majestic land we live in — and then hearing jubilant cries of victory is enough to awaken the revolutionary spirit in the hardest of hearts.
I speak for everyone in TWC when I say that tech workers will no longer idly sit by with our fingers in our ears, pretending that the march of globalization and marginalization will never reach our comfy workspaces. Where these brave service workers have forged a path ahead, we shall follow. Where they have built solidarity and collective voice, so too shall we. Where they have fought, and won, and outstretched their hands to uplift their marginalized brothers and sisters, so too shall we. Where they have struggled with all their might to make a better, safer world for themselves and those they love, so too shall we. Thank you.
Organizing Tech Workers: An Intro to TWC (Philly)
Friday, 10/5 7PM at Friends Center in Philadelphia
TWC Monthly General Meeting
Thursday, 10/11 6:30PM at Seattle Labor Temple Association in Seattle
The Code of Conduct is in effect at all TWC events.
In The News
After weeks of organizing and preparation, the #MarriottStrike is in full swing. Hotel workers in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and across the country are out on the picket line 24 hours a day, fighting bravely for better pay and conditions. Follow UNITE HERE #1Job for updates, and turn out to rally with the striking workers!
Facebook workers are up in arms about vice president of Global Public Policy, Joel Kaplan’s visible support of Kavanaugh at last Friday’s hearings. This is yet another example in a long list proving that employees’ interests and executives’ are far from aligned. We stand with the Facebook workers who spoke out against Kaplan’s behavior: “This was a protest against our culture, and a slap in the face to his fellow employees.”
Workers marched on Google yesterday to demand a community benefits agreement that will protect San Jose families from displacement and the coming Googleville.
Facebook confirmed last week that over 50 million accounts were compromised in a massive security breach.
A thoughtful conversation with Infoproletários, “a Brazilian social movement composed of tech, or IT, workers united with the objective to denounce and fight exploitation and abuses suffered by their group and the working class as a whole,” on the time for a tech worker strike.
Protesting workers interrupted Palantir’s fancy party on the Embarcadero in San Francisco on Wednesday to keep pressure on and amplify #TechWontBuildIt. Bay Area cities are considering cutting ties with businesses including Palantir that advance the work ofICE and other immigration agencies.
Hourly workers at Amazon learned Wednesday that the company’s minimum wage will increase to $15 an hour. While Bezos has been celebrated in the press for making this “gift” to his lowest paid employees, Amazon quietly announced the same day internally that bonuses and stock awards would be eliminated, leaving workers unclear about how much the change will affect their overall compensation and benefits. Either way, as one tweeter explains, we should look at the factors leading to the increase, why Jeff Bezos isn’t one of them, and keep in mind that “what we need is so much bigger. No company should have this much power. Inevitably, it means that Amazon gets to set the rules, economically & politically. And those rules will always privilege Amazon’s interest over the public’s.”
The lawsuit against Tesla’s union busting could be a sign of scales tipping in labor’s favor in historically anti-union Silicon Valley. “The co-founder of Intel infamously said, ‘remaining non-union is essential for survival for most of our companies.’ So tech companies paid well, in addition to giving employees perks, stock options, and benefits packages. The company ping-pong table and free beer on tap is meant to prevent a labor union.” And one of our friends in the Amazon warehouse weighs in:
In warehouses where I have contacts, mostly on the coasts, the responses have been lukewarm; not lots of clapping and even some boos during all hands meetings. The wages were close to 15 already, and since it seems the company is phasing out variable compensation pay for warehouse workers, which doubles during the fourth quarter, it will likely negatively affect most those who don’t take unpaid time off during peak. But, the situation in Southern states with lower wages likely is different, and it might generally lower the turnover of newer employees, so that will be good for organizing. So it’s mixed overall. Bernie likely deserves a lot of credit for adding pressure in addition to the UFCW public campaign at Whole Foods, but credit definitely should not be given to Bezos, as Bernie did in his speech. Let’s see what the longer term effects will be.
Song Of The Week
You can ignore the 32
There are 32 women in Armagh jail
Political prisoners here at home
The British state’s got nothing to lose
It’s a subject better left alone
We don’t torture, we’re a civilized nation
We’re avoiding any confrontation
We don’t torture
We don’t torture
Alleged crimes withheld information (we don’t torture, we’re a civilized nation)
She gets no sanitation (we’re avoiding any confrontation)
She dries her shit on her cell wall (we don’t torture, we’re a civilized nation)
She’s feeling cold and sick, she gets a couple of valium (we’re avoiding any confrontation)
Now she’s relaxed for the next interrogation
Naked, spread-eagled on her back
It’s a better position for internal examination
A better position for giving information
We don’t torture
We don’t torture