Skip to contents
An independent news site for, and about, the most powerful workforce on earth.

Is joining a union… Googley?

Organizing with co-workers is probably the clearest shot Google workers have at actually contributing to racial and economic justice...so….who’s in? Anyone??? Hello? Where’d everybody go?

Opinion
1:00 AM PST

Biden supports Amazon worker union efforts, warns against corporate intimidation and propaganda

A shot across the bows for Jeff Bezos, and his powerful propaganda machine (led by a former Obama/Biden press secretary!)

News

Stay up to date!

Hot Topic!

Tech workers speak out about broken corporate cultures

Employees at Mailchimp, Amazon, Salesforce have spoken out about inequality, discrimination and other toxic workplace conditions.

Fast Company reports that two Black employees have left Salesforce in recent months citing “rampant micro-aggressions and gaslighting.”

The Verge reports on claims of “sexism and racism” at “Atlanta’s premier tech startup.”

The Verge

Fast Company

Recode

Techworker is 100% independent and member supported

Join us now

It's just us, and you.

From the senior engineer at Facebook to the Amazon warehouse contractor, we build Techworker to tell the stories of the people toiling to deliver on Silicon Valley’s promises.

We have no outside investors, no trust funds and no shady ties to foreign governments or alien overlords. It’s just us, and you.

Join our community and receive exclusive newsletters and podcasts, access to events, and even a framed portrait in our newsroom to remind us who’s really in charge. Check out the options!

Send Confidential Tips

techworkertips@protonmail.com

The Latest

Is joining a union… Googley?

Organizing with co-workers is probably the clearest shot Google workers have at actually contributing to racial and economic justice...so….who’s in? Anyone??? Hello? Where’d everybody go?

Opinion
1:00 AM PST

Insider: The federal government set up a tip line for techies to snitch on foreign interference from China, but nobody’s using it

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US has set up a tip line to gather intelligence on foreign interference in American businesses. In doing so, the federal government hopes that VCs, startup founders, and engineers would inform the agency of interference. The government seems to be the most concerned about threats from China. However, most sources who spoke with Insider were unaware the tip line existed. Trae Stephens, a partner at Founders Fund and cofounder of Anduril Industries, told Insider that few people are using the tip line because of a "lack of willingness to critique foreign nations or make moral judgement" in the tech industry. [Paywall]

Links

The Seattle Times: Senior manager Charlotte Newman sues Amazon over racial and sexual discrimination and harassment

Charlotte Newman, a Black senior manager for Amazon Web Services, alleges that she was paid significantly less than her white male colleagues while at Amazon. She also says that a manager propositioned her for sex and that she faced a series of microaggressions based on her race and gender like being called "aggressive," and having her braids pulled. The federal suit, filed in Washington D.C., comes one week after an investigation by Recode detailed similar allegations from Black employees against the tech giant. Newman is represented by Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer known for defending victims of alleged abuse by Harvey Weinstein.

Links

Principles for Sectoral Bargaining: Six suggestions from notable labor experts

A long list of labor, law, and social science professors have released a paper explaining the practice of sectorial (i.e. multiple-employer) bargaining and warning against the dangers posed by the models put forward by Prop 22, the PRO Act and a gathering wave of Third Way propoganda. They offer six rules for effective sectorial bargaining, and argue that these need to be accompanied by focused statutory reform so that a wave of sectorial bargaining efforts doesn't serve to further erode worker protection and power in the 21st Century. One can only hope this thorough and accessible tract finds it's audience in Washington.

Links

Biden supports Amazon worker union efforts, warns against corporate intimidation and propaganda

A shot across the bows for Jeff Bezos, and his powerful propaganda machine (led by a former Obama/Biden press secretary!)

News

Medium Workers Union earns majority support from employees, but narrowly misses company recognition

Though a majority (52%) of workers voted to recognize the union, the union was just one vote shy of being recognized by Medium according to terms both the company and organizers had initially agreed to.

News

Insider: After SolarWinds CEOs blamed an intern for their security breach, a researcher points out that the username and password were on Github for years

On Friday, SolarWinds CEOs testifying before congress said a weak password was the fault of an intern in 2017. The password, "solarwinds123," has been heavily criticized for providing an easy way for hackers to pass software updates under the radar. Several experts including the researcher who discovered the issue, however, say security issues at Solarwinds are not merely the fault of an intern. The researcher, Vinoth Kumar, told Insider the password was publicly viewable on GitHub for at least two years, from 2017 to 2019.

Links

Tech workers in the UK are finding their voice… but will they unionize?

The UK has started to see a new type of trade unionism, characterized by flat hierarchies, quick mobilisation, and a sword-of-justice focus. Will that be enough to persuade digital natives to organize en masse?

News

Ghosting isn’t just for dating—recruiters do it, too

Between a global pandemic and a devastating unemployment rate, empathy is key to helping our fellow humans make it through the day. Unfortunately, recruiters at some companies don’t seem to have gotten the memo.

News

Insider: Oracle employees confused on flexible-work policy, Austin headquarters move is just for show

Five employees who spoke with Insider on the condition of anonymity say they haven't received much information on Oracle's flexible-work policy, which would allow employees to choose which major hub they work from or to work from home. Oracle announced the change in policy in December as part of its announcement that it would be moving its corporate headquarters to Austin, Texas. However, employees who spoke with Insider said that the announcement seemed largely performative, as no teams or major executives appeared to be relocating. Because of the pandemic, all nonessential employees are currently working remotely.

Links

Wave of techworkers speak out about toxic culture at large tech companies

Employees at Google, Amazon, Mailchimp and Salesforce have alleged discriminatory treatment in the last two weeks.

News

Welcome to Techworker!

We'd love for you to check out our initial public offerings...

Opinion

Can UX design really fix tech’s misinformation problem?

Few UX designers enter the field because they hope to manipulate users’ political opinions. And yet here we are.

News

Motherboard: Amazon’s push for a $15 minimum wage has more to do with union busting and PR than genuine good will

Amazon has supported a $15 minimum wage for years, but when it became a highly-contested political topic amidst talks over Biden's $1.9 trillion covid relief bill, Amazon ramped up their support. By doing so, Amazon appears to be trying to weaken employee organizing efforts that focus on poor working conditions and pay. The push also makes it easier for Amazon to hire retail workers who aren't otherwise willing to do heavy labor and build a more progressive public image. In reality, Amazon is pushing warehouse wages down in many areas. In New Jersey, for example, Bloomberg previously reported that warehouse workers were making $24 an hour before Amazon began operations. In 2019, those workers made only $17.50 per hour.

Links

Fast Company: Google’s gutting of it’s AI ethics team has broad implications

This long read from Fast Company is an in-depth explainer of Dr. Timnit Gebru's firing from Google and why it matters. Because a dominant group of tech companies loom so large over the rest of the industry, they control the future of AI ethics. Yet, the implications of their policies stretch far beyond internal problems with company culture or a company's bottom line — the research of AI ethicists at major tech companies can determine the trajectory of tech from from hiring software to predictive police dashboards. As more systems utilize AI, biased or faulty algorithms will begin to touch many aspects of every day life.

Links

Reuters: Google pledges to assess racial equity after widely publicized internal revolt

Two months after Google's controversial firing of AI ethicist Dr. Timnit Gebru and more recent firing of ethical AI co-lead Dr. Margaret Mitchell, Google has pledged to change it's research oversight process. According to recordings of an internal town hall heard by Reuters, executives said they will shift from their previous "sensitive topics" review process, which had held issue with research that found bias in Google's services, among other topics. An internal email also showed how Google's lawyers modified an AI paper, earning the lawyers a comparison to "Big Brother." Last, Google named one of Google's few Black vice presidents, Marian Croak, to manage 10 teams researching topics like racial bias and technology made for people with disabilities and stated that they would conduct a racial equity impact assessment. On Thursday, Dr. Timnit Gebru tweeted that she was not impressed: "You fire me and then you want to announce this? The absolute nerve. The nerve."

Links