WORKER DEMANDS IN THE TECH INDUSTRY

Hello comrades of the computer,

The next NYC-DSA Tech Action working group meeting will be Tuesday, September 5th, from 7 to 8:30pm at the same place, 114 W. 26th St., Manhattan, 4th floor. Our topic will be worker demands in the tech industry.

In this meeting we’ll discuss demands from organized workers: first some precedent in both tech and non-tech industries, based on the readings below 📕, and then we’ll articulate our own demands to stretch our socialist muscles. 💪

To prepare for the meeting, please look over the following four readings, all of which shouldn’t be too jargon-y for you. “FOUR?!” I know, I know. 1, 2, and 4 are manageable, and 3 is like half a page. You can do it! … but if you don’t, that’s okay too, you should still come to the meeting. There’s a guided question for each.

  1. As temp sector grew, so did appeal of union: Microsoft campus labmates bargain for benefits, Boston Globe, 2015. On the organizing efforts by Microsoft contractors that do bug testing.

    • How does their status as contractors affect their demands and their organizing?
  2. Chronicle of a Strike, Jacobin, 2016. On the successful 2016 strike by CWA-affiliated Verizon technicians and wireless workers (which NYC-DSA played a significant role in).

    • What from their problems and demands might be relevant in the tech industry?
  3. Italian IBM workers strike, Computer People for Peace, 1973(?). A fun little historical note. Sorry about the image quality. Check out their slogan “Blue Collar, White Collar, Same Fight!” – a great example of what we talked about in our last meeting!

    • How do their demands take into account an inequality in the workplace?
  4. Reasons to be Skeptical of Silicon Valley’s ‘Never Again’ Pledge, The Outline, 2016. On the “Never Again” pledge by individual tech workers not to build a so-called Muslim registry for Trump.

    • In what ways does the pledge differ from the others kinds of demands we’re talking about?

When you’re reading over those, think about the following questions re the workers’ demands described in the articles:

  • Are the demands universally applicable to the workers in a particular tech workplace? How might demands be made in solidarity with contractors?
  • Do the demands appeal to (material) self-interest or to compassion? In cases of fighting for a minority group (e.g. women in tech), how can that gap be bridged?
  • Do the demands address only the workers themselves, or do they have a political reach beyond the workplace?

And most importantly, think about your own demands! 🤔 As an exercise we’ll see what our own members want changed in their tech (or tech-esque) workplaces. You might find some sweet relief when you hear what your comrades say.

All of the above, along with some additional, related reading for the extra curious, can be found in this shareable doc.

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