Issue 35: Closing the door to this way of life

08 Feb 2019

Waheed Etimad was working full time as an Uber driver to support his spouse and seven children. He migrated here with his family four years ago and he was studying to become a computer engineer. He was killed while working on Sunday night. Uber will pay no workers comp death benefits for his family. There will be no life insurance pay out. In life, Waheed was a unit of profit for Uber. In death, he is nothing to them. 

Photo of Waheed Etimad and family

In memoriam: Waheed Etimad

On Monday night drivers held a vigil in Waheed’s memory, and then drove in procession to Uber HQ. They asked for #JusticeForWaheed, and whether Uber would do anything to support his family after profiting from his labor. Uber is liable for nothing. This is the lie the entire gig economy rests on: that as contractors are not beholden to their employers, so employers are not beholden to them.

You can help support Waheed’s family at this GoFundMe link.

Upcoming Events

Learning Club: Temps Vendors Contractors - Tech’s Contingent Workforce
Saturday, 2/9 2PM at Omni Commons in Oakland
Meetup  •  Facebook

TWC South Bay General
Sunday, 2/10 2PM San Jose Peace & Justice Center in San Jose

Workshop on Public Records Requests (FOIA, CPRA)
Wednesday, 2/13 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.

Organizing Tip Of The Week


When something big happens that gets people agitated, it can be tempting to try and harness that energy by calling a big meeting to start organizing people to fight it. However, that can end up painting a target on your back, and when management starts leaning on everyone who spoke up, you can find that your base of support seems to vanish before your eyes. A better plan is to make notes of who’s upset and who’s affected, and to try to set up one-on-one meetings outside of work to get to know their experiences better. Remember the 80/20 rule—in a one-on-one, as an organizer you want to listen 80% of the time.

In The News

Instacart shopper-workers claimed victory this week in reversing a tipping policy in which management dipped into tips to subsidize customers’ $10 delivery minimum; see the petition that helped fuel their campaign here. Amid celebration, workers at Instacart and elsewhere continue to organize to fight for greater transparency into the algorithms directing their work and wages. DoorDash employs the same tip policy of applying tip to cover the minimum payout when possible, and Amazon calculates its Flex drivers’ wages to include tips in their base pay rather than on top of it.  

Amazon has denied any coordination of the anti-union tweets of its fulfillment-center “social media ambassadors” despite the tweet’s character-by-character similarity. (Amazon used the same tactic on social media last summer.) 

Sourced by companies like CrowdFlower, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, and Figure Eight, “crowd workers” performed data-labeling for Google’s supposedly “artificially intelligent” drone-targeting technology known as Project Maven. Some of the workers sourced from around the world were paid as little as $1 an hour, and were unknowingly powering Google’s multimillion dollar military contract.  

The U.S. Court of Appeals says that protections against age bias only apply for internal hires.

Startups have to choose: Scale and abandon all human values for relentless pursuit of profit, or fold.

Michael Dell as well as former Yahoo CEO were taken to task for their fear of higher taxes for the rich.

Target’s app knows if you’re inside or outside the store and changes what price it shows you based on it.

“Watched and not seen”: a thoughtful interrogation of the rise of surveillance capitalism and our modern privacy dystopia.

Striking factory workers in a Mexican border town won higher wages last week.

“In their essay on the Californian Ideology, Barbrook and Cameron described the people who worked in Silicon Valley as ‘digital artisans.’ Today they are more likely to be called ‘entrepreneurs’ or ‘creatives,’ but the idea remains the same: engineers, designers, and product managers are driven by passion and purpose. As Steve Jobs exhorted them, they do what they love. Lately, however, this cohort has begun to talk about themselves in a different way, as ‘tech workers’—the term challenges the Californian Ideology at several levels. As we usually understand them, workers are not ‘creatives,’ inspired by a higher calling. Most people are workers by necessity, and sell their labor to make a living. By calling themselves workers, members of the new movement are staking a claim to this common identity.”

Song Of The Week

“No More” - The Lumpen (1970 “Seize The Time” Black Panther Party Productions)

From Watts, to Brownsville, we find misery,
But there won’t be no more, won’t be no more,
Rats, dirt, and kids who are hungry,
There won’t be no more, won’t be no more,
Cause we’ve seen, how to be free,
Of pigs in our streets, and poverty,

To this way of life, we’re closing the door,
So there won’t be no more, won’t be no more.