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Bloomberg: 80% of IBM workers will have hybrid roles after pandemic

During a Wednesday Bloomberg "Future of Work" seminar, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said he foresaw 80% of his workforce operating in hybrid roles, with parents having the option to stay 100% remote until schools reopen. Currently, about 10% of workers have returned to the office, and Krishna said much of the remaining workforce will only need to return approximately 3 days per week. The 70 million square feet of office space will be restructured to foster collaborative work, while employees will be encouraged to do individual work whilst working from home.

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Future Institute Today: 2021 Tech Trends Report

FTI's annual tech trends report covers new developments in technology, tech workplaces, and the overall global impact of the industry on politics, economics, and other areas. This year, the report includes some trends particularly pertinent for Techworker readers. One, it highlights the plight of Black tech professionals who earn on average $10,000 less than their colleagues. Second, FTI predicts Biden will do more to regulate big tech than predecessors, supporting academics and scientists in gov't positions with expertise.

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Buzzfeed: Why some Amazon workers are organizing without the NLRB

While votes are tallied for a union election in Bessemer, Alabama, some Amazon workers are looking toward ways of organizing without the NLRB. After decades of declining union popularity compounded by four years of the Trump administration, many of these workers find the NLRB to be under-resourced. Amazonians United, for example, is a worker network including Amazon employees at warehouses across the country.

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The Intercept: Amazon training employees to defend the company on Twitter

Amazon has been training "ambassadors" to defend the company on social media since 2018 under the codename "Veritas," according to new documents leaked to The Intercept. These employees were picked for their "great sense of humor," enabling them to more effectively confront criticism in a "blunt" manner, according to the documents. Several training examples in the documents directly reference Sen. Bernie Sanders, and also show how the employees are also forbidden from discussing a short list of topics, including union contracts. In 2018, Amazon said these workers were trained to "honestly share the facts," about their work with the company.

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Slate: Why diversity isn’t just about the “pipeline”

Scholar Joy Lisi Rankin critiques the "pipeline fallacy," or the belief that tech diversity is about educating poorly-represented groups in STEM and getting them into tech careers. She traces the roots of the fallacy to efforts by tech companies of the 1960s, and explores recent efflorescences like Google's commitment to training 100,000 women in digital skills. Rankin leads the Gender, Race and Power research program at NYU's AI Now Institute and Slate published her analysis and recommendations.

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Bloomberg: Microsoft’s deal with US Army now worth $21.9 billion

Microsoft revealed their deal to build customized HaloLens goggles for the US Army three years ago. The company now says the deal is worth $21.9 billion over 10 years, and will run for at least an initial five years. The headsets will equip soldiers with night vision as well as allow commanders to project information onto a visor in front soldier's faces amongst other features. Microsoft employees have protested the deal, starting when it was unveiled three years ago. The workers say they are dismayed their technology will increase the lethality of war, and that they "did not sign up to develop weapons," according to an internal letter circulated in 2019 previously obtained by Bloomberg.

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Bloomberg: Google must post notices that it won’t interfere with worker organizing

The newly formed Alphabet Workers Union filed a suit in February, accusing management of Google subcontractor Modis E&T of not allowing workers in South Carolina to discuss their pay and suspending a technician named Shannon Wait after posting a pro-union Facebook post. After reaching a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), management must now post notices telling workers they have a right to join a union, that they have a right to discuss their pay, and that Shannon Wait's suspension would be rescinded. Wait was reinstated within a week of the suit's filing, though she left soon after.

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Insider: In pivot from athletic wear to tech company, Nike lays of workers and spurs internal turmoil

Nike's CEO, John Donahoe, said he wanted to convert the company into a technology-first brand when he took the helm in January of 2020. Formerly the CEO of eBay and ServiceNow, Donahoe hoped to eliminate costly middlemen between sales and emphasize the company's digital offerings like smartphone apps. This has caused internal disagreement at the company, as some employees believe these tactics ignore the company's preexisting strengths. The transformation has also included hundreds of layoffs and significant internal restructuring, raising tensions.

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Insider: Two Alabama Amazon workers on why they voted against unionization

Insider chose to broadcast the anti-union opinions of two Bessemer, Alabama warehouse workers, Cori Jennings and Thomas Eady, amid the ongoing NLRB election at the plant.

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Insider: Deliveroo stock price tumbles due to rising pro-worker sentiments

The Amazon-funded, UK-based food delivery company shed approximately $2.7 billion in market value shortly after opening. Analysts said the flop is mostly to do with the fact that several fund managers said they couldn't back the company because of their concerns over labor practices, signaling a shift in investor's perceptions of gig companies.

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Insider: Judge orders SpaceX to hand over documents in Federal discrimination investigation

SpaceX efforts to deflect a Department of Justice investigation into its hiring practices explode in the Northern District of California.

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The New Yorker: The gig economy celebrates working yourself to death

Lyft pubished a blog post celebrating a driver who accepted a Lyft ride while in labor. A Fiverr ad campaign praised workers who ate coffee for lunch, took calls from a clients while having sex, or never slept. Jia Tolentino's latest column examines the way gig companies glorify exploiting the very workers they rely on.

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Fast Company: How conflict avoidance holds back workplace equity

Code2040 leaders Mimi Fox and Karla Monterroso argue that conflict avoidance reinforces structural inequality in workplaces, particularly those involved in tech. Conflict avoidance, for example, reinforces tone policing, or the way women of color are told they sound "harsh" or "angry" rather than heard for the substance of what they're saying. It also reinforces concepts like "culture fit," which can exclude people of color because of a perceived increased risk of workplace clashes. In this article, the two women break down ways conflict avoidance reinforces toxic workplace behaviors, and offer actionable tactics for combatting it.

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NPR: Women and people of color in tech experiencing more harassment after remote work

Project Include, an advocacy group founded by tech investor and gender equity activist Ellen Pao, conducted a study with nearly 3,000 tech workers about their experience with remote work. 25% of survey respondents said they experience gender-based harassment, and the data was even more stark for transgender people and people of color. 39% of Asian women and nonbinary people, 38% of latinx women and nonbinary people, and 42% of trans people saying they had experienced gender-based harassment. Rates of workplace hostility also increased, and were also disproportionately experienced by transgender people and people of color.

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Insider: Amazon is paying a small army of employees to combat bad press on Twitter

Twitter accounts, many of which were created in March of 2021, have been responding to Amazon criticism on Twitter with positive counter information. The accounts say they they are run by Amazon employees, who have "joined a program" where they "answer any questions, comments, or concerns" about the company, according to their own tweets. One account, for example, tied to an employee named Yola, has responded to claims about workers peeing in bottles, low pay rates, and safety protocols. Amazon admitted to paying a small group of employees to tweet about the company in 2018.

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The Bureau of Investigative Journalism: Deliveroo riders earn as little as £2 an hour

According to a new analysis of invoices from over 300 Deliveroo workers, one third are making below the UK national minimum wage of £8.72 per hour. Half were paid less than the £10 an hour rate Deliveroo says is the minimum average for their workers, while some were making closer to just £2 an hour. This is as the company prepares for a multibillion-pound stock market floatation, netting their chief executive as much as £500m. Deliveroo said the Bureau's sample was neither a "meaningful or representative proportion" of their riders. Overhiring appears to be a part of the problem: Deliveroo hired an additional 25,000 riders, doubling their UK workforce, just in the past year. Deliveroo also started offering "variable rates," and requiring drivers to cover more distance in 2019, which has decreased workers' hourly rates. Additionally, Deliveroo's algorithm — named "Frank" after a character in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia — provides riders with little transparency as to how their wages are calculated. After a UK Supreme Court ruling which said Uber driver should be classified as employees, Deliveroo drivers are hopeful their conditions will improve. The Spanish government is also working on a law that would grant riders employment rights and information about the algorithm, while the Italian government concluded riders were employees. Other decisions have gone against Deliveroo in France and the Netherlands.

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Insider: More evidence supports Amazon driver’s claims that they must relieve themselves inside their vehicles to meet quotas

Just two days after Amazon denied claims that drivers must pee in bottles in order to meet delivery quotas on Twitter, Insider has spoken to more drivers who substantiate the claims. In addition to needing to pee in bottles, one driver said they knew of two incidents where drivers defecated in bags. Another said she had struggled to change her menstrual pad. "It's inhumane, to say the least," said one unnamed driver.

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Recode: Amazon’s snarky tweets resulted from new direction from Jeff Bezos

Amazon News created a stir on Twitter last week when it responded in an uncharacteristically antagonizing manner to Tweets from Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan. The tweets created a media storm of their own: one tweet, for example, questioning whether Pocan believed that Amazon delivery drivers had to pee in bottles, was quickly refuted by a report from The Intercept backing up employees' claims with company documentation. An Amazon security engineer even filed an internal support ticket questioning whether the Twitter account had been hacked because the tweets seemed so irresponsible. Now, Recode reports that the antagonistic tweets were in response to commands from CEO Jeff Bezos. Bezos has expressed dissatisfaction with top executives in recent weeks, pressuring them to be more aggressive in firing back against company criticism. This comes in the final days of voting at a Bessemer, Alabama Amazon facility wherein workers will decide whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

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The Intercept: Documents support Amazon drivers’ claims that they must pee in bottles

On March 24th, Amazon's "News" Twitter account tweeted that if drivers had to pee in bottles, "nobody would work for us." The day after, The Intercept supported employees' claims with documentation that showed Amazon has known about the problem since at least May of 2020, if not much longer. The documents show that Amazon not only knew about the issue, but also that drivers were punished for leaving "unsanitary" waste in their vehicles. In an email reprimanding employees for the practice obtained by The Intercept, a logistics area manager said that "by scanning the QR code on the bag, we can easily identify the DA who was in possession of the bag last." He added that such behaviors were "unacceptable" and would result in "Tier 1 infractions."

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Insider: NLRB rules that Tesla repeatedly violated labor laws

In a 3-2 decision on Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Tesla repeatedly violated labor law. In the report, they say that Tesla coercively interrogated workers involved in organizing, used gag orders to keep them from talking to the media, and fired a union activist in 2017. They also targeted Musk's tweets in 2018, saying he "unlawfully threatened" workers when he said that workers would "pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing" if they formed a union.

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