Issue 23: We want to live
26 Oct 2018
Unrest among workers at Amazon continues to boil since last week’s open letter protesting the company’s pursuit of the Pentagon project JEDI. The business practice at the center of this week’s dissent is Amazon’s unrelenting deployment of its facial recognition service, Rekognition, and its plans to sell it to ICE. Workers are not having it.
One Amazon worker explained their fundamental distrust with their employer: “If being ‘progressive’ (raising wages, being pro-LGBTQ) makes them money, they’ll do it; if working with ICE makes them money, they’ll do it. They have zero actual morals or beliefs outside of profit.”
Meanwhile, in keeping their focus trained on the software services comprising ICE’s tech stack, immigration activist group Mijente highlighted Amazon as the ultimate keeper of the data that powers the detention and deportation engine in a report released Tuesday. The report details how Amazon, Palantir and Microsoft profit from immigrant abuse. If you’re in Seattle, turn out on Halloween for a lunchtime action at Amazon’s headquarters.
Bezos continues to shuffle his argument on why augmenting law enforcement with faulty facial recognition doesn’t power immigrant abuse. “I’d let them in if it was me, I like ‘em, I want all of them in,” he said in a Wired interview. Tech bosses continue to prop up their “progressive” personal brands while positioning their companies to profit from predatory, abusive policies.
Google has Project Maven. Amazon has Rekognition. Microsoft is ICE’s cloud provider. Salesforce is modernizing CBP. Palantir is…Palantir. The entire tech industry is complicit, and fighting it requires us to organize across roles, companies, and borders.
Whatever company employs you, whatever your role, whatever industry abuses you feel best positioned to fight: reach out, get connected, and let’s build power together.
Learning Club: Tech Workers are Workers
Sunday, 10/28 2PM at Cambridge Public Library
Facebook • Meetup
Wednesday, 10/31 12PM and 6PM at Marriott Marquis on Mission Street in San Francisco
Halloween Action at Amazon: What’s Scarier than Amazon?
Wednesday, 10/31 12PM at Amazon Spheres in Seattle
Learning Club: Tech Workers are Workers (NYC)
Thursday, 11/1 6:30PM
Learning Club: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs Climate
Saturday, 11/3 3PM at Douglass Truth Branch of The Seattle Public Library
TWC Monthly General Meeting
Thursday, 11/8 6:30PM at Seattle Labor Temple Association in Seattle
The Code of Conduct is in effect at all TWC events.
In The News
When Tesla execs call for production surges to make up for poor project planning, they profit while workers pay. “The Walmart parking lot, a scene of scattered cars and RVs near the end of the commuter bus route, has become a de-facto home for many. After spending shifts that can last up to 12 hours building batteries and electric drive units for Tesla vehicles, employees sneak into the nearby McDonald’s to clean up, before retiring to their cars, parked between lamp posts, for a little shut eye.”
Women in strenuous jobs were forced to miscarry after employers denied their requests for light duty, even ignoring doctors’ notes. Investigative reporting has turned attention on the widespread practice of abuse and discrimination against pregnant individuals in the workplace, especially in warehouses, one of the fastest growing workplaces. A Memphis Verizon warehouse operated by a subcontractor XPOLogistics (which has a market value of $12 billion) has a particularly gruesome track record of worker abuse. In addition to a series of workers miscarrying due to the nature of their daily work, when another worker died of cardiac arrest, employees were told “to keep working as the woman lay dead.” Workers are fighting back with lawsuits and organizing against weak federal protections that say “if companies treat their nonpregnant employees terribly, they have every right to treat their pregnant employees terribly as well.” One of the workers who miscarried while working at the Verizon warehouse left the job and is now working with the Teamsters to organize the warehouse.
The United Kingdom’s fine of Facebook for harvesting and misusing of over one million UK users’ data totaled $645,000, or roughly the amount of money it makes in 9 minutes.
Google has abandoned its Berlin campus plans after facing strong opposition from the local community.
A cute article in CEO Magazine offers execs some strategies for diffusing “employee activism” and “staving off unrest”. Bosses are starting to feel the pressure, let’s keep it up!
Our brothers and sisters on the front lines of raising wages and conditions for hotel workers around the world are one day longer, one day stronger and not backing down until Marriott concedes. Last Saturday, thousands marched on San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland to amplify and show community support for striking Marriott workers; see more highlights of the last few weeks here. Next week in San Francisco: turn out in Halloween style on Wednesday at 12 pm and 6 pm and bring candy for strikers’ kids and families; and give to a strike fund near you.
Have a story about working in tech you want to see performed on stage?
The Tech Worker Monologues is a theater project aimed at exploring the role of identity in the Bay Area tech industry in a moment when members of the tech community are grappling with the roles of race, gender, sexuality, and other identities in the industry, as well as with the role of the industry in the world at large.
All submissions are anonymous and encrypted for security. Writers from a variety of identities encouraged to submit. Submit by Oct. 27.
To find out more, audition to perform, or get involved behind the scenes, visit narrativedisruption.net or contact email@example.com.
The Detroit riots of 1967 were central to establishing the area’s black power movement. Black autoworkers were not able to join the UAW in the Detroit auto plants that were largely managed by white Polish-Americans, even while black workers made up the majority of workers. They built their own organizations and carried out wildcat strikes. In the below clip from the film Finally Got the News a worker involved in the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM) breaks down the machinations of power and production under capitalism, racism in the labor movement, and why black workers are the true revolutionary hoist of our collective reaching towards freedom. DRUM’s ideology and praxis expanded to other auto plants and eventually grew into the League of Revolutionary Black Workers.
Song Of The Week
Blue Scholars - Proletariat Blues
It seems that we never get paid for what our labor is worth
It’s why we often in a daze on our way to our work
And when we get there, we can’t wait to be out
So let me tell you what it’s about