Issue 47: I don't want to bring my full self to work

03 May 2019

This week our friends curating and publishing the zine Bug Report! released issue 2. The submissions featured in this issue explore that not-quite-right feeling we get in our stomach when execs talk about equity and working toward equal representation, and the ways conferences like Lesbians Who Tech hold up the corporate infrastructure of inequality as much as they provoke it.

Also not to miss is a mad-lib format send up of the tech company offer letter, excerpt below.

Get the full zine here, and you can email the editors at Submissions for the third issue on the topic “oncall” are open through August 1.

… How can we even envision an actual equitable workplace, where it’s not just controlled by corporate branding and HR? That first year, they had the head of branding for Uber being interviewed on stage. It was a Black woman at the time and she said something about how “we look at all of our employees as family” and someone in the audience shouted out, “does that include drivers?” That was great, but then there was this debate on the conference app about whether that was okay because of her identity. And that brought up for me how marginalized people are used as shields. Some company hires a Black woman to be their brand director because then other people who are marginalized don’t feel like they can criticize; they don’t want to challenge her. So then how do you challenge the company?

At my workplace it’s still often talked about more as inclusion. Diversity is just who’s there and inclusion is, as they told me at work, being able to bring your whole self into the workplace and feel included. That’s an interesting way to think about it, because when you bring your whole self into the workplace, the workplace can also extend into your whole self. But sometimes some aspects of marginalized identity that are not socially appropriate can also provide a space that’s separate from work in a positive way that naturally resists that assimilation.

Once you bring that into work, that identity can be packaged up and sold back to you. In Seattle, your position in the Pride parade depends on how much money you donate. For example, Uber is always in the first 10 floats because they’re a top level sponsor. They donate a lot of money, but does that mean anything about what it’s like for LGBTQ employees at Uber or any other kind of equity there?

The theme of Pride this year is the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. I’m thinking about Uber and other companies out there commemorating when people threw rocks at cops! It’s been so co-opted and branded that you can even talk about Stonewall in a corporate friendly way. It’s shocking. Equity is still in that phase where it can be interesting but it’s starting to get talked about more by the corporate side of things. They don’t want to let anything be driven by workers, right? It’s always, “if you have problems, you should go talk to HR.” LGBTQ employees groups are really ways of the company trying to take any worker agitation and turn it into something they can control. …

Read the full interview with Carmen here.  

Upcoming Events

Labor Law for the Rank and File
Wednesday, 5/8 at 6:30PM at CIIS in San Francisco
Facebook • Meetup

Oppressive Tech: How Silicon Valley Helps the Cops and ICE
Thursday, 5/9 at 5PM at Stanford

TWC Monthly General Meeting
Thursday, 5/9 at 6:30PM in Seattle

Workers Exchange
Wednesday, 5/15 at 6PM at The Episcopal Church of St John’s in San Francisco

Learning Club: Hate, Harassment and Moderator Exploitation
Thursday, 5/16 at 6:45PM at CIIS in San Francisco
Facebook • Meetup

Film Premier: When Rules Don’t Apply
Thursday, 5/30 at 6PM at UC Hastings in San Francisco
Facebook • Meetup

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

In The News

On May Day over 1,000 Googlers participated in a sit-in in a show of solidarity with workers who have faced retaliationSince last week’s revelation of retaliatory actions by Google management against workers who have organized for change, more stories of retaliation have been shared. Wednesday’s demonstration sent a message to management that they must answer to collective worker action, and that retaliation against any worker will not go unnoticed. 

Workers were out in force this May Day around the globe (if less so here in the U.S.). A march of over 40,000 people in the Paris city center turned riotous, as did several others in European cities as agitation over social inequity continues to foment.

Direct action gets the goods—but Riot is only claiming they’ll have an opt-out of forced arbitration for future hires. A promising change, but not enough.

Big brother is deporting you. Despite previously denying doing so, Palantir is providing the technology to ICE that’s directly led to over 400 arrests of undocumented people. That’s 400+ family they’ve separated.

What stands between you and AI dystopia? Tech workers. An op-ed by Veena Dubal in the Guardian argued that workers are the most effective oversight function on tech companies.

The software Amazon uses to monitor its workers can also fire them. “If the system determines the employee is failing to meet production targets, it can automatically issue warnings and terminate them without a supervisor’s intervention.”

A bicycle food delivery courier died of a heart-attack following a 10-hour shift last Wednesday; his name was Artyk Orozaliev and he was 21. Artyk was a contract worker for Yandex, the Russian tech monolith that is a kind of Uber-Google mashup.

The damages of surveillance tech are waged most brutally against non-white and non-wealthy individuals who are more likely to be harmfully tracked and surveilled by their apps, and also less likely to be protected by security protocols.

California courts ruled yesterday that the Dynamex decision applies retroactively, expanding the impact of the 2018 ruling that challenged the independent contractor paradigm on which the gig economy is built.  

More rideshare drivers are striking next week; give to their strike fund here.

What happened to our hard-fought-for 8-hour-workday?

Stop looking at your screen.

Song Of The Week

Which Side Are You On? from Kentucky by Panopticon

Oh workers can you stand it?
Oh tell me how you can?
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?

Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?

Come all you good workers,
Good news to you I’ll tell
Of how the good old union
Has come in here to dwell.

Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?