Issue 28: Take the power out of the tower

07 Dec 2018

Two Tech Workers Coalition volunteers recently sat down with the hosts of the Delete Your Account Podcast to talk worker-to-worker solidarity in the tech industry. Hear the full conversation here

“As workers in Silicon Valley we can feel atomized and so isolated from each other; often we lack authentic community. Our foundational work, then, is building relationships between each other — authentic friendships built in trust is foundational to our organizing.

The next layer of that foundation is gaining knowledge of the lineage of workers who built power before us. A couple months ago we met with a visiting Chinese factory worker; as he told us about frequent wildcat strikes organized by his peers we asked him why he would come to America for a conversation about labor when our country has gutted the power of workers and handed power to institutions. He told us that we have a tradition of labor struggle in the United States, that there are elders here we can learn from. And he’s right — we are conducting our own education about the elders who came before us, the members of the labor community, we’re self-educating about our rights on the job and reminding each other that we don’t have to go to our managers or HR to make change. We are building relationships in our actual community, to our coworkers and to those already engaged in the struggle.

And so, Tech Workers Coalition is a network that is both social and educational. We’re doing leadership development, that is, self-leadership development, so that we’re creating a reproducible network of leaders that will bring this work everywhere.”

Photo of a mural in San Francisco saying, 'take the power out of the tower'

Upcoming Events

Learning Club: Tech Ethics and Worker Power
Sunday, 12/9 2PM at Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge

Building Power from the Bottom Up
Monday, 12/10 6:30PM at The Women’s Building in San Francisco
Facebook • Meetup

Forum: #MeToo and Worker Power
Tuesday, 12/11 4PM at MIT in Cambridge

TWC NYC Meeting
Tuesday, 12/11 6:30PM at Verso Books in New York City

TWC December Potluck!
Thursday, 12/13 6:30PM at Seattle Labor Temple Association in Seattle

Seattle Learning Club: The Revolution Will Not Be Funded
Saturday, 1/5 3PM at The Seattle Public Library University Branch in Seattle

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

In The News

Google temps, vendors and contractors have raised their collective voice to demand an end to pay and opportunity inequity and access to company-wide information on the same terms as full time employees. In a letter published on Medium, TVCs called out management practices that cruelly quantify the value of a contractor’s life against the life of a full-time employee:

Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.” But the company fails to meet this standard within its own workplace. Google routinely denies TVCs access to information that is relevant to our jobs and our lives. When the tragic shooting occurred at YouTube in April of this year, the company sent real-time security updates to full-time employees only, leaving TVCs defenseless in the line of fire. TVCs were then excluded from a town hall discussion the following day. And when 20,000 full-time and TVC Google employees walked out to demand equal treatment for all workers, TVCs were again excluded from the company-wide discussion held a week later. The exclusion of TVCs from important communications and fair treatment is part of a system of institutional racism, sexism, and discrimination. TVCs are disproportionately people from marginalized groups who are treated as less deserving of compensation, opportunities, workplace protections, and respect. We wear different badges from full-time employees, which reinforces this arbitrary and discriminatory separation. Even when we’re doing the same work as full-time employees, these jobs routinely fail to provide living wages and often offer minimal benefits. This affects not only us, but also our families and communities.

Read the full letter here and share your own story about experiences as a contractor by tweeting @TechWorkersCo.

The City of San Jose locked protesting members of the public out of its hearing vote to sell 10.5 acres in the heart of downtown to Google for its new campus. The planned San Jose campus is twice the size of its neighboring one in Mountain View.More than 50 Amazon warehouse workers are sick including one in the ICU after a can of bear spray was punched by a robot.
Black workers at Tesla speak out about the racism they’ve experienced on the job, and plan to take legal action against the company.

Tumblr banned nudity this week, “decimating one of the last platforms available to sex workers and the sex-positive community.”

Emails released on Wednesday as part of an investigation document Facebook’s “carefully cultivated smoke screen” cover of its quest for market domination and control of user data. Nothing to be surprised about here.

California lawmakers will consider a stricter version of the ABC test for contractors to be considered employees introduced by the Dynamex ruling in the spring of 2018.

AI Now Institute issued an urgent warning against facial recognition technology, and called for protection for whistleblowers working at tech companies.

New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission voted on Wednesday to establish a $17.22 hourly minimum wage for gig platform drivers, a first of its kind legislation to provide wage protections for independent contractors. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance has called it a victory; some drivers say they may experience net lower earnings. Meanwhile as of last month, 12,501 Uber drivers have (individually) brought arbitration cases against the company.

San Francisco Marriott strikers win! Our heroes from the Unite Here picket lines at the Marriott Marquis, the Marriott Union Square, the Palace Hotel, the St. Regis, the W, and the Westin St. Francis went back to work on Wednesday with a contract ratified by 99.6% of members that will raise wages $4 an hour and establish better protections against sexual harassment. 

A photo featuring Unite Here workers

@UniteHereLocal2 / Source

Song Of The Week

Gil Scott-Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Full Band Version)

You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and drop out
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip
Skip out for beer during commercials
Because the revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruption
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
Blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John Mitchell General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
Hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary

The revolution will not be televised