Issue 36: Amazon is over if you want it

15 Feb 2019

NYC breaks up with Amazon on Valentine’s day.

When Amazon announced it was taking $3.1 billion NY tax dollars and public land to build its HQ2 in Queens, NY, a broad coalition of neighborhood groups came together and organized against the deal. On Feb 14th, in the face of mounting pressure, Amazon said it’s abandoning the plan.

An anti-Amazon protest in NYC

Photo credit: JFREJ / Source

NYC-TWC is proud to stand in solidarity with the No HQ2 coalition – against billion dollar handouts to trillion dollar companies; against the sale of mass surveillance tech to ICE and law enforcement; against gentrification and displacement; against exploitative labor practices; and against the extraction of private value from public wealth and infrastructure.

We will continue to oppose Amazon’s extractive and exploitative practices beyond NYC. More cities are waking up and choosing not to subsidize a world broken down to fit tidily into Amazon’s supply chains. We celebrate this victory: we stood together, we said no, and they were forced to listen.

Upcoming Events

Learning Club (NYC): The Teachers’ Strike Wave
Tuesday, 2/19 6:30PM at Verso Books in Brooklyn

TWC (San Diego) Happy Hour 
Thursday, 2/21 6:30PM at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in San Diego

Ellen Ullman on Life in Code (Silicon Valley Uncovered Seminar Series)
Tuesday, 2/26 5PM at USF Fromm Hall in San Francisco

Seattle Learning Club: Let a Hundred Zines Bloom
Saturday, 3/2 3PM at Capitol Hill Branch of The Seattle Public Library in Seattle

Seattle Writing Club at Victrola 
Sunday, 3/15 1PM at Victrola on 15th in Seattle

Feminist Data Justice with Lauren Hoffman and Niloufar Salehi (Silicon Valley Uncovered Seminar Series) 
Tuesday, 3/5 12:45PM at USF in San Francisco

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

Organizing Tip Of The Week


It can be intimidating asking your coworker for a one on one, even when you’ve known and been friendly with them for a while. You’ll get more comfortable with practice, but we do have some suggestions that should help.

When setting up your one on one, be brief. You aren’t trying to have your coworkers airing their grievances in the middle of the workplace, so once they’re agitated and willing to meet outside of work, set up a firm time and place to meet and bring that part of the conversation to a close. You’ll ideally need at least half an hour for a good one on one, so try to accommodate that in any way you can.

In The News

BuzzFeed workers have gone public with their campaign to form a union. Their most urgent demands are improving unfair pay disparities, guarantees of a diverse newsroom, the rights to their creative work, as well as ensuring the same treatment for contractors.

After a quarter in which revenue hit $2.4 billion, Activision Blizzard laid off 8% of its workers this week. “Activision Blizzard, like most of corporate America, does not have the courage to call this what it is: the ruination of lives in service of endless growth and profit maximization to serve the ultra rich becoming the mega rich at the expense of an exploitable underclass with no power to stop every effort to undermine them. No, no—it’s a ‘restructuring.’ There is no end to the call for growth. There is always more. To them, the publishing of video games are a means to an end, a people-driven creative medium to be exploited until the well runs dry.” Game Workers Unite takes the CEO to task.

Predictive policing software further entrenches systemic abuse of and discrimination against “black residents, targeted racial minorities, non-native English speakers, and LGBTQ individuals”; and its deployment is being expanded.

Apple and Google have no comment about their app stores’ hosting a Saudi government app that tracks women and stops them from crossing borders without approval from their legal guardian.

Apple contractors reveal “how the other half live” comparing their pallid office conditions with the headquarters where full time employees work. Their facilities “undermine the mythology of Silicon Valley as a kind of industrial utopia where talented people work themselves to the bone in exchange for outsize salaries and stock options. A common perception in the Bay Area is that its only serious tech-labor issue is the high cost of living driven by the industry’s obscene salaries. But many of those poorer residents work in tech, too. For decades, contractors and other contingent workers have served meals, driven buses, and cleaned toilets at tech campuses. They’ve also built circuit boards and written and tested software, all in exchange for hourly wages and little or no job security. In different forms, temporary labor as an alternative to full-time employment has grown across the U.S. economy. Companies in many industries now use staffing firms to handle work once done by full-time workers. The technology industry offers one of the starkest examples of how the groups’ fortunes have diverged.” 

Unethical tech doesn’t just look like ICE and CBP contracts, as horrifying as they are. Sometimes, it looks like writing code to steal from tens of thousands of workers who are trying to support their families in the gig economy tech bosses created. “Amazon didn’t directly respond to questions from the Times about whether or not the tips supplemented base pay, but noted that it reserves the right to use “any supplemental earnings” to hit that base rate.” This is not a “controversy”. It’s wage theft.

A former Google worker recounts her time in the fight.

Immigration activists call out Democrats’ concessionary ‘smart wall’ for what it is: just another name for Trump’s wall.

In critique of the call to make “black people more legible to racist facial recognition technology,” one photographer asks: “In a country where crime prevention already associates blackness with inherent criminality, why would we fight to make our faces more legible to a system designed to police us?

Google and other tech firms will be in the business of war as long as there’s a system to uphold and a country to defend. Organizers describe the longterm view we need to take when it comes to fighting technology deployed to military ends.  

Oakland teachers prepare to strike! Donateto a fund, or consider volunteering.

Song Of The Week

Peasant Uprise, by Fanzui Xiangfa

Automated factory labor
Never be permitted
Dignity and rights

Stand up! Stand up!
There is nothing to lose again

Stand up! Stand up!
For dignity, uprising!

Overturned the totalitarian loudspeakers
Destroy the scam in the window
We learned new words
Our dignity and rights

Stand up! Stand up!
Lost will not lose again

Stand up! Stand up!
For life, uprising!