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Silicon Valley workers are powerful: Google employees lead the new climax of technology labor movement

via:CnBeta     time:2018/11/4 12:44:31     readed:706


Brishen Rogers, an associate professor at Temple University who specializes in the relationship between labor and technological development, said he was surprised by the scale of yesterday's demonstrations.

"I have never seen such a situation in the technology industry," Rodgers said. The number and level of coordination involved in the Google strike is unprecedented.

An anonymous Google employee said Thursday's protests felt like a flash of lightning.

Work or family?

Traditionally, labor negotiations have no place in Silicon Valley. For white-collar workers, unions hardly exist. Because of their high demand skills, they usually enjoy high salaries, comfortable benefits and high occupational mobility.

Wendy Liu, an economic editor of the British publication New Socialist and a former Google employee, said the protests were generally "incredibly encouraging" as employee dissent spread across Silicon Valley.

"It's an exciting development for technologists to think of themselves as workers, which means that their class interests may run counter to those of their bosses," she said.

"Technological companies often try to make employees see themselves as"team members"and as part of"family", and they should love and even be grateful to their companies."

She said she felt that way when she worked at Google, and later realized how unhealthy it was for employees.

On Thursday, Google employees borrowed the strategy of ILO in the past. In their request statement, the main organizers of the protests linked themselves to the West Virginia teachers'strike and the fast food workers' "fight for $15" demonstration.

In fact, demonstrations in San Francisco even took place in Harry Bridges Square-Bridges, an influential trade union leader in the early 20th century-and speakers spoke of him and other historical examples of labor organizations. Demonstrators in San Francisco also talked about a union strike by Marriott employees at the same time.

In the past few years, blue-collar workers from large technology companies such as Facebook cafeteria employees and Bay Area Security have begun to form trade unions. Organizers of the Google protests intend to incorporate these contractors into their demands, another sign of the rapid growth of "new technology resistance".

Technology companies are increasingly hiring contractors, suppliers and temporary workers (TVCs), which can increase profits and speed up recruitment. However, these workers usually earn less, bear higher welfare costs and lack job security for direct employees. Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported a startling statistic: Alphabet employs more casual workers than direct employees. At that time, Alphabet had 85050 direct employees, which was a great achievement.

Many of the demonstrators at Google Mountain View headquarters agreed that the only way to meet their demands was through the active participation of employees at all levels of the company. Their demands include ending private arbitration, a transparent report on sexual harassment, more disclosure of pay and the addition of an employee representative to the company's board of directors.

An employee protester said, "I'm here because everyone's voice is so important that if we don't unite, the necessary changes won't happen."

Many employees on the stage or interviewed refused to disclose their full names. The Tech Workers Coalition is organizing a retaliation hotline that employees can call if they face retaliation for taking part in strikes.

When a woman named Sheree spoke on stage, she caused a particularly warm ovation. She asked participants to think about how their initiative could continue.

"It's a good start to come here today," she said. But to be a real ally, you must sacrifice something. What will you sacrifice? "

"It's not over yet."

Over the past year, the activities of technology industry organizations have increased, and workers have joined forces to try to force their employers to abandon controversial projects or oppose government policies.

Earlier this year, at Alphabet's shareholders'meeting, a group of employees confronted the leadership with a proposal that Alphabet link executive compensation to diversification indicators. Employees also accused the company of lacking transparency in a controversial contract in The Pentagon. In June, after strong opposition from staff, Google's cloud department said it would not renew its contract next year.

Sasha Constanza-Chock, associate professor of public communications at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: "Google's strike magnifies the wave of technology workers we see in # TechWontBuildIt and # NoTechforICE. It also links the organization of science and technology workers to # MeToo, just as # NoTechforICE links the organization of technology workers to the rights of migrants. "

Activists believe that Google's protests are a weathervane for more organizational activities in the future.

Employees of other technology companies in San Francisco joined Google on Thursday. The Tech Workers Coalition said it attracted more attention last year, with an increase in e-mail users and actual activities.

A spokesman said: "we are passing the grass-roots organizations andeducationTo establish workers' rights. Obviously, executives will not do this for us, so we have to do it ourselves. "

Although changing Google's culture will be a long process, the requirements of Google organizers are concrete and enforceable. Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke at a meeting on the day of the protest. He didn't commit to making any changes, but in a memo he told employees that his team was gathering feedback and "turning ideas into actions". Although Google employees have no legitimate right to collective bargaining with management without unions, the energy of the demonstrations suggests that employees will not give up soon.

Celie O'neil-hart, one of the leaders of the protest, who works on YouTube, called staff at the end of the protest to maintain the momentum.

"It's not over yet," she growled through the loudspeaker in the mountain view. "Let's continue our efforts. The deadline for science and technology is approaching, and the deadline for Google is approaching.

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