Issue 15: Seasons Greetings from your CEO at TECH COMPANY
27 Nov 2020
Dear COMPANY NAME team:
Hello employees — or should I say independent contractors?! (More on that shortly.) I’m writing to you from my second mansion located in ECONOMICALLY DESTABILIZED COUNTRY IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH EXPLOITED BY UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM! I see the poor children here, and it just reminds me how privileged all of us are to live in a virtuous place like Silicon Valley (at least when I’m there, lol) where we pretend homeless people simply don’t exist. And if they do, it’s because they didn’t try hard enough to do a startup or they didn’t have enough generational wealth to do financial crimes.
As the holiday season approaches, never forget that at COMPANY NAME, we are making the world a better place. We have built a unique cloud computing platform based on distributed, blockchain-based, AI-driven, and award-winning machine learning solutions. Our full-stack agile team has delivered serverless, fully-native electron-based UI/UX in our revolutionary user-centric smartphone apps, which by the way, are capable of rendering 60 FPS with buttery smooth scrolling. Talk about web scale! Just wait until CITIZENS OF ECONOMICALLY DESTABILIZED COUNTRY IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH EXPLOITED BY UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM get their hands on our disruptive, transformative product that will finally legitimize their very existence in the eyes of global capitalism. It is truly something. All we need to do is increase our metrics across the board, meet our OKRs, triple our annual company earnings (and my salary! lol!), and continue to ship ship ship great products. I am very proud of this cross-functional effort and the synergy flowing through the company. Every day we are COMPANY MISSION STATEMENT. Because COMPANY NAME is a mission-based company. We are not political, we are mission-critical. When we reach our financial goals through value-extraction and exploitation, we are COMPANY MISSION STATEMENT. Just COMPANY MISSION STATEMENT all day, every day. That’s the COMPANY NAME way.
Before I double-click into this email, let me just say — CONGRATULATIONS on all the hard work. No seriously, thank you for working so hard. Go team! (Because you know I don’t actually do anything here. lol! jk jk. “Imposter syndrome” affects us all.) But really, none of our success would be possible without you sacrificing your time and providing your below-market-rate labor power for the sake of our stealth-mode startup. Together, we have accumulated so much wealth for this corporation that its perceived value has sky-rocketed among capitalist speculators. One day, no matter what happens now, I will be very rich. So again, THANK YOU team! Give yourselves a nice pat on the back. There will be no bonuses this year because wage theft, but we all have to make sacrifices for COMPANY NAME so that we can achieve COMPANY MISSION STATEMENT. Remember, this isn’t just about us, it’s also about CITIZENS OF ECONOMICALLY DESTABILIZED COUNTRY IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH EXPLOITED BY UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM.
Now: the main reason I’m writing to you. Well, as I playfully hinted already, everyone has now been reclassified as an independent contractor instead of a full-time employee. We owe our gratitude to the astroturfed campaign we deployed, disguised as a ballot proposition, which allowed us to purchase the federal legislation that we wrote to “regulate” (lol right!?) ourselves. So, what does this mean for you? Well, the first thing to note is that nothing will change in your day-to-day work as we restructure the company to benefit our investors. Oh, and keep in mind that when we make decisions, we center you, our fantastic COMPANY NAME
employees independent contractors. What this really means is looking out for COMPANY NAME’s best interests, because when COMPANY NAME succeeds, so do you.
So, where do we begin? I’m sure you are burning with questions about how current labor law protects your rights as an independent contractor. Suffice to say, the law is a bit bleak. But don’t worry, COMPANY NAME is committed to treating you right! We don’t need the government getting all up in our business, telling us how to innovate.
Firstly, with your new independence, you can work as much or as little as you want and make your own schedule! You can work anywhere and anytime, as long as you work at least 50-80 hours per week and are available at a moment’s notice between the core hours of 8am and 6pm, Monday through Friday. What’s more, even though we are lowering wages — remember, this is the best thing for the success of COMPANY NAME so that we can continue COMPANY MISSION STATEMENT — this new flexible schedule means you can actually earn more than you ever could as a so-called “employee”. Contractor life is starting to sound pretty great, huh?
As for health insurance, we are no longer required to provide that since your employment status has been reclassified. This means more savings for COMPANY NAME which means our investors get higher returns, which means executing COMPANY MISSION STATEMENT — but more importantly, it means you can choose and pay for the exact health insurance plan that works for you. It’s your choice! With all those extra hours you’ll be racking up, this should basically be free. And, if you don’t want it, think of all the savings going straight to your pocket!
Regarding PTO and paid sick leave, you’ll be pleased to know that those are simply no longer necessary under this restructure of COMPANY NAME! Isn’t that amazing? You no longer have to email your manager for approval and blah blah this, blah blah that. You simply take time off! Whenever you want! Because you make your own schedule! You will no longer get paid during your time off, but that’s why we are letting you work as many hours as you want. Now that is what I call a perk.
Finally, we know you are accustomed to being paid with a salary, rather than hourly and we do not want to cause any disruptions to your work-life balance. (We only disrupt the tech industry and precarious labor market, am I right!) We have good news on this front, too. We’ll be using our own location-based, time-tracking, facial-recognition surveillance software that we have already installed on your COMPANY NAME phones. And because we built this internal tool ourselves, if you find a bug, feel free to fix it! The app always runs in the background, cannot be deleted or quit, and will detect when you are working and when you are not. Every day, it automatically reports the hours back to us! All you have to do is keep your webcams and microphones turned on all the time. Can you say easy? Even better, it uses our own proprietary blockchain-based AI so we can dogfood our own consumer-focused, revolutionary product! We are truly setting up COMPANY NAME for success.
Every month you’ll get your paycheck for all the hours you worked, minus your fair share of taxes, of course. The check will be direct-deposited into your brand new COMPANY NAME bank account. (Oh, did I mention we’re getting into cryptocurrency? Very exciting. Can’t innovate, my ass! But more on that soon.)
To celebrate this transition towards advancing COMPANY MISSION STATEMENT, every month, we’ll be hand-selecting a dozen
employees independent contractors who are executing COMPANY MISSION STATEMENT the best, which is to say, logging the most hours. To express our gratitude, they will receive a $5 Amazon gift card, because hard work should pay off!
This is certainly an exciting new era for COMPANY NAME. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to ask them privately by emailing no-reply@COMPANY.com where our expensive lawyers will respond with rhetorical labyrinths and highfalutin legal jargon. Whatever you do, do not discuss these changes with your
coworkers fellow contractors — some of them might be Pinkertons!
Love and gratitude,
Your humble COMPANY NAME CEO
P.S. If you’ve never been to ECONOMICALLY DESTABILIZED COUNTRY IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH EXPLOITED BY UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM you should really plan a visit. It’s beautiful here! Just don’t forget to bring your own Wifi lol. I would send a photo but I can’t really do the emails good. Haha.
If this sounds awful to you, just wait until you learn about what Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Postmates, and DoorDash did with Prop 22 in California. They poured millions into a ballot proposition to exempt themselves from a recent law (AB5) passed by the state legislature that would have required them to provide common employer benefits like a minimum wage, healthcare, and paid time off. They used their platforms and power to coerce their users and their employees to peddle their propaganda (during a pandemic!). They abused push notifications, they displayed pro Prop 22 messaging inside their apps, they made gig workers disseminate pro Prop 22 material to customers, and they incorporated Prop 22 into employee performance reviews as a “company goal”. Now they’re all set for a grand IPO and even larger valuations.
Here’s the kicker: we’ve already built all of the tools to undermine our own labor market and further the exploitation of our labor power. There’s Upwork, Fiverr, A-Team, freelancer.com, and I’m sure many more. These surveillance-based platforms incentivize a race-to-the-bottom in hourly rates and allow bosses to squeeze every ounce of value from precarious workers that cannot find full-time employment with benefits. Companies like Google already hire more temps and contractors than they do full-time employees. Amazon is hiring Pinkerton operatives to spy on its own workers to quell labor unions and stamp out environmental activism. The trend is clear. The joke is on us.
The only thing trickling down from the pockets of predatory investors and greedy corporations is divisive propaganda that aims to turn so-called “white-collar” workers against so-called “blue-collar” workers. It’s time we start organizing in solidarity with our coworkers instead of justifying whatever rhetorical bullshit our CEOs spew at us in company-wide meetings (or emails).
When gig workers go on strike, we all go on strike. If we don’t, by the time our own Prop 22 arrives from the bosses, there will be no one left to fight with us.
This piece was written by editorial collective member Jesse Squires, which you can also find on his blog. Want to edit, write, or talk with us? Learn more here.