Issue 33: A network the boss cannot destroy

25 Jan 2019

Knowledge of Google’s exploitation of workers is officially mainstream. Last weekend’s Saturday Night Live featured contract workers struggling to get by in the tech economy.

Stills from a recent Saturday Night Live skit about contractors at Google

A few days later we learned that Google is actively pursuing legal routes to discourage workers from coming together to improve their jobs and working conditions.

The Obama Labor Board expanded workers’ rights by making it safer to use work email and online communications systems for connecting with one another on matters regarding workplace change, for example, circulating petitions or “fomenting walkouts” or forming a union. In documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Bloomberg journalist, Google’s lawyers “wrote that the 2014 standard ‘should be overruled’ and a George W. Bush-era precedent—allowing companies to ban organizing on their employee email systems—should be reinstated.”

At the time of the walkout Googlers organized in November, Google’s CEO sent a company-wide email expressing his and Google leadership’s support of the walkout. The company’s request to the National Labor Relations Board has demonstrated the hollowness, the two-facedness of those words.

The walkout organizers tweeted a statement in response: “Google would rather pay lawyers to change national labor law than do what’s right. Google is aiming to silence workers at a time when our voices are more essential than ever: from Maven, to Dragonfly, to the walkout, collective action and worker organizing has helped check unethical and selfish executive decision making, where ‘official channels’ continually failed.”

Whether trying to curb our activity online or offline, they have no power over the relationships we have with one another. Ours is a network the boss cannot destroy.

Upcoming Events

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

TWC Monthly General Meeting
Thursday, 2/14 6:30PM at Seattle Labor Temple Association in Seattle

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

In The News

Workers in Seattle dropped a banner over a highway route common to Microsoft commuters speaking out against building tools for ICE and in solidarity with the migrant caravans.

Oracle has stolen $401 million from its workers, says a document filed by the Department of Labor as part of a discrimination lawsuit. Of the 500 engineers Oracle hired in their college recruiting program between 2013-2016, 90% were Asian, while 6 were black. “Oracle strongly prefers hiring Asians with student visas for certain roles because they are ‘dependent upon Oracle for sponsorship in order to remain in the United States,’ so the company can systematically underpay them.” Oracle is also accused of steering women and people of color into lower paying jobs, amounting to women and people of color being paid as much as 25% less than their white, male counterparts for equal work. 

The CEO of Palantir called #TechWontBuildIt activism a “loser” position, “not intelligible” and “borderline craven”. Craven losers of the tech industry, unite! 

DNA ancestry kits like 23andMe may be trash science.

Glassdoor ratings reflect what its management wants you to think about the company, not what workers are actually experiencing there.

Read this if you don’t already know precisely all the ways Amazon is controlling your internet, as well as your online and offline consuming habits.

Could a general strike called by the flight attendants’ union help end the government shutdown?

Game Developers Conference added a new question their annual “state of the industry survey”: Should game workers unionize? 47% of respondents said yes.

Soshanah Zuboff’s new book, “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power” is out. “The headline story is that it’s not so much about the nature of digital technology as about a new mutant form of capitalism that has found a way to use tech for its purposes. The name Zuboff has given to the new variant is ‘surveillance capitalism’. It works by providing free services that billions of people cheerfully use, enabling the providers of those services to monitor the behaviour of those users in astonishing detail – often without their explicit consent. …It won’t be easy to fix because it requires us to tackle the essence of the problem – the logic of accumulation implicit in surveillance capitalism. That means that self-regulation is a nonstarter. ‘Demanding privacy from surveillance capitalists,’ says Zuboff, ‘or lobbying for an end to commercial surveillance on the internet is like asking old Henry Ford to make each Model T by hand. It’s like asking a giraffe to shorten its neck, or a cow to give up chewing. These demands are existential threats that violate the basic mechanisms of the entity’s survival.’”

Song Of The Week

Still Ain’t Satisfied

We’ve made some progress, won some fights,
but I Still Ain’t Satisfied
Until we all have equal rights, I Still Ain’t Satisfied
We march today, our numbers rising
Let’s keep it up; keep organizing!
And I still ain’t, woa, they lied (x3) And I Still Ain’t Satisfied

They say it’s a democracy, but I Still Ain’t Satisfied
‘Cause look at our economy, I Still Ain’t Satisfied
It’s not the party of the hour
It’s the Wall Street gang that’s got the power
And I still ain’t, woa, they lied (x3) And I Still Ain’t Satisfied

We’re working hard to fight cut backs, but I Still Ain’t Satisfied
Until Wells Fargo pays their tax, I Still Ain’t Satisfied
If we raise the tax on the very wealthy
Our safety net would still be healthy… and I still ain’t…

Abortion still is legal here, but I Still Ain’t Satisfied.
‘Cause that might not be true next year, and I Still Ain’t Satisfied
I’m singin’ about control of my own womb
And nothing less is gonna change my tune…
and I still ain’t…

They say that drones will save GIs, but I Still Ain’t Satisfied
While kids in Yemen lose their lives, and I Still Ain’t Satisfied
We don’t want war, we don’t need empire
Let’s let the dove replace the vampire… and I still ain’t…