Issue 32: California Teachers on Strike, Instacart Workers Uniting

18 Jan 2019

Microsoft’s $500 million “pledge” for affordable housing is a thinly veiled pursuit of profit and a push for deregulated development.

$475 million of the “contribution” will take the form of loans to developers, and $25 million (or 0.3% of Microsoft’s $8.8 billion in profit last quarter) will be donated to homeless and housing services. The interest made on the loans alone should be more than enough to cover the $25 million donation, so there’s in fact nothing being “donated” here.

As reported by Seattle Times’ “Project Homeless” (the paper’s “watchdog” initiative funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), $500 million could yield about 1,000 housing units, though “Microsoft estimates that the county currently needs about 305,000 affordable-housing units to fill the region’s affordable-housing gap.”

Along with the investment, Microsoft’s initiative includes a push for housing policy changes, for example “waiving or reducing impact fees that fund affordable-housing development.”

This is no act of charity. The “affordable housing” will target households making between $62,000 and $124,000 per year and much of it will be developed where Microsoft workers already live. Not only will Microsoft recoup more than the dollars they put in the housing investment, when they control the price of housing, they’ll have no problem keeping wages stagnant for their lowest paid workers.

Tents outside a Microsoft office

Upcoming Events

Seattle Circles 3 Intro
Saturday, 1/19 12PM at Seattle Public Library Douglas-Truth Branch in Seattle 

Discuss Our Workplace Experiences
Tuesday, 1/22 6:30PM at The Women’s Building in San Francisco
Meetup  •  Facebook

Labor Law for the Rank and File
Saturday, 1/26 2PM at San Jose Peace & Justice Center in San Jose
Meetup  •  Facebook

Organizing Tech Workers: An Intro to TWC
Tuesday, 1/29 6:30PM at CIIS in San Francisco
Meetup  •  Facebook

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

In The News

How venture capital ruined the internet.

Instacart workers called for customers to join their action by leaving 22-cent tips in protest of the company’s changes to pay structure that has resulted in some workers making a third as much as they were previously. The workers articulated the details and demands of the action in a statement on Medium.

The case for a game workers union.

Teachers in Oakland conducted a one-day wildcat strike today The Los Angeles teacher strike continues.

Organizers of November’s Google walkout launched a public awareness campaign with the goal of ending forced arbitration in employee contracts across the tech industry.

The Zimbabwe government shut down the internet on Tuesday in response to labor protests.

Germany has outlawed Amazon’s touch-to-buy ordering service “Dash” buttons for infringing on consumer protection laws.

SpaceX’s planned layoffs will eliminate 10% of the company.

Meet Masa Son, the billionaire, SoftBank boss, largest investor in Uber, and most powerful person in Silicon Valley, and his vision for a world run by computers. Lately he’s most excited about his investment in WeWork. “WeWork’s potential lies in what might happen when you apply AI to the environment where most of us spend the majority of our waking hours. I head down one floor to meet Mark Tanner, a WeWork product manager, who shows me a proprietary software system that the company has built to manage the 335 locations it now operates around the world. He starts by pulling up an aerial view of the WeWork floor I had just visited. My movements, from the moment I stepped off the elevator, have been monitored and captured by a sophisticated system of sensors that live under tables, above couches, and so forth. It’s part of a pilot that WeWork is testing to explore how people move through their workday.”

A Facebook engineering manager quit after being harassed for views promoting diversity and inclusion.

A coalition led by the ACLU calls for Amazon to stop selling its biased facial recognition technology to the government and law enforcement.

Song Of The Week

Farai at Flesh & Bone Studios (live)

This is England
Times are hard in the ends, man
When will it fucking end, man?
What a life without a why
Do you know how it feels to count the days and hours till payday?