Issue 54: NoTechForICE Protests Continue. Palantir Doubles Down.
06 Sep 2019
This week, the CEO of Walmart announced they’d sell less ammunition. This follows multiple mass shootings with some connection to the retailer; most recently, a shooting in El Paso killed 22 people inside a Walmart store. But it wasn’t just the proximity of the company to these tragedies that motivated them to change their act. For the first time in Walmart’s history, employees staged a walkout this summer to protest gun sales. These workers went public with their efforts, saying that they “no longer want to be complicit by working for a company that profits off the sale of firearms,” echoing the calls for accountability and justice we’ve heard from tech workers at Wayfair, Google, and so many other companies this past year.
It’s striking that in the same week we saw Palantir double down on their nonsensical position that we are to leave governing to the government; that we should stop protesting Palantir for enabling ICE’s human rights abuse, and instead redirect our attention to the White House. They can deflect and distract all they want, but we will never take our eyes off the companies that are fueling and profiting off of separating families.
Silicon Valley has enjoyed nearly two decades being known as the industry of the “win-win,” amassing enormous profits while appearing to the make world a better place along the way. This marketing scheme has been effective in attracting talent and investment, but the smokescreen is lifting and more people are seeing tech companies for what they are: profit seeking vehicles with no regard for the human and environmental damage they inflict. We don’t know if Palantir will ever follow Walmart’s lead (how strange it is to think about this comparison!) but what we do know is this: Right now they are complicit and their arguments for continuing to profit from ICE’s work won’t stand up to anyone with a conscience.
- Learning Club: The Californian Ideology: Saturday, 12/2, 4:00-6:00PM @ Unite Here! 2, 209 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco. FB Event
- General meeting: Tuesday, 12/5, 6:30PM @ Unite Here! 2, 209 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco. FB Event
- Save Net Neutrality: Thursday, 12/7, 5PM @ 768 Market St, San Francisco. FB Event
- Learning Club: Xenofeminism: Tuesday, 12/19, 6:30PM @ Unite Here! 2, 209 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco. FB Event
The Code of Conduct is in effect at all TWC events.
In The News
Shut down Amazon. Hundreds protested Amazon’s decision to continue to profit from ICE’s human rights abuses in Boston on Thursday night.
MIT Media Lab Founder: Taking Epstein money was justified. In a shockingly brazen defense of rape culture, founder Negroponte claimed that “in the fund-raising world, these types of [sexual abuse] occurrences were not out of the ordinary, and they shouldn’t be reason enough to cut off business relationships.” This sounds all too familiar to workers in the tech world, finance world, government world, and beyond. Wherever power & profit are concentrated at the top, this behavior is rewarded. The only thing that can stop this cycle of abuse is our collective strength in numbers.
Stanford HAI Shouldn’t Invite Eric Schmidt To Speak About Ethics.
Indymedia FTW. ”If a new leftist network is built today, its nodes should strive to support a unifying concern on a global or national scale, like immigration, racial justice, or environmental destruction, while remaining deeply connected to local communities and their own particular informational needs. Now might be the perfect time to build something new. The corporations that form our digital sphere are facing a political crisis. They’ve become conduits for violent hate around the world and have made our elections awful. Indymedia shouldn’t be replicated — it was nowhere near perfect. But its example reminds us that a better internet is possible, if we are willing to build it.”
As Grass-roots Labor Activism Rises, Will Labor Take Advantage? We’re not holding our breath.
AB 5 Gets Support from CA Governor Gavin Newsom (and Julian Castro). The vote is expected next week. Uber/Lyft drivers have been phonebanking their fellow rideshare drivers in anticipation of AB-5 passing and these drivers finally getting the right to unionize. Building a strong base of drivers now will help ensure a worker-led union once this legislation passes.
Organizing Tip Of The Week
Excerpt from When Bosses Play the Victim, by Rachel Stafford. Originally published in organizing.work
Recently, the president of the university I work for went on something of a speaking tour, meeting with all staff members to “listen” and “connect.” He’s extremely brand-conscious, so we’re used to these dog-and-pony shows. But instead of the usual upbeat messaging (“Everything is awesome! We’re doing great things!”), we got treated to an over-the-top display of vulnerability… his feelings had been hurt, and he wanted to talk about bullying.
It was all incredibly vague; at no point did he address actual things that had happened or been said. But coming in the midst of a particularly bitter round of negotiations with my union, the goal was obvious. He wanted to shame us all into keeping our criticisms and grievances to ourselves.
Some of my coworkers were initially pretty shaken. They started replaying their participation in collective actions, thinking, “Have I crossed a line? Am I a bully?” But then we got together for an impromptu team meeting. We turned the focus back on the administration’s intransigent stance at the bargaining table. We mocked the president’s calculated performance (he even had a hand on his chest and a mournful gaze!). Eventually we talked each other out of our guilt and came away angry at his nasty trick. How dare he try to make us feel guilty for standing up for ourselves!
I’m sharing this story because I think it is relevant for organizing everywhere. Guilt and shame can be really effective union-busting tactics. That’s why bosses are pretty quick to use them. But solid inoculation, and good planning, can prevent these tricks from doing damage to our organizing, and actually make us stronger and more united.
Quote Of The Week
“The struggle for a voice in industry through the processes of collective bargaining is at the heart of the struggle for the preservation of political as well as economic democracy in America. Let men become the servile pawns of their masters in the factories of the land and there will be destroyed the bone and sinew of resistance to political dictatorship. Fascism begins in industry, not in government. Let men know the dignity of freedom and self-expression in their daily lives, and they will never bow to tyranny in any quarter of their national life.” Sen. Robert Wagner (National Labor Relations Act)