Bloomberg: Amazon Warehouse Worker Dies in Bessemer, Alabama
At the same Amazon warehouse site where workers attempted to form a union in defense of better conditions earlier this year, an Amazon worker has collapsed and died. The worker was sent to the hospital last Thursday after he was found in a warehouse bathroom.
Politico: Gig Companies Seek to Sway Biden’s Pro-Union Task Force
In Politico's morning tech newsletter, new reporting revealed that industry groups are attempting to influence Biden's newly appointed Pro-Union Task Force, signed in via executive order Monday. The task force is set to advise on whether the federal government can reclassify workers as full-time employees. Chamber of Progress, an industry group made up of members like Lyft, Doordash, Lime and Uber is just one of the groups trying to exert their influence. In a statement, Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich said "I hope that the task force can encourage more experimentation...that can help achieve many of [the goals of unionization] and take into account how people want to work."
All Access: NPR Voluntarily Recognizes Union of Tech Workers
63 workers in NPR's Digital Media Division have decided to unionize under NABET-CWA Local 31. On Wednesday morning, NPR voluntarily recognized the union, formally titled "Digital Media United." The union said in a statement, "we hope the success of our campaign is part of a greater wave in tech organizing that will positively impact the efforts of fellow technologists across the industry."
Insider: Uber and Lyft are Desperate for Drivers. Here’s What Drivers Say is Keeping Them Off the Road
Many drivers have stopped working for Uber and Lyft during the pandemic. Now faced with a rising demand, these companies are trying to lure drivers back with bonuses and higher rates. However, these perks aren't proving as attractive as they have before, likely because drivers are concerns are now more severe. Insider spoke to a group of app-based drivers and asked them why they were hesitant to return to the apps. According to Insider, drivers' concerns are multi-layered. For one, drivers are both worried and offended by how apps have managed the pandemic, instituting few safety protocols and using strict eligibility requirements for coronavirus "sick pay." Food, grocery, and package-delivery apps have provided safer work amongst the coronavirus crisis, luring drivers away from Uber and Lyft. Drivers also are still upset by the companies' manipulative claims about Prop 22, and many say they were too angry with the companies to return. Last, drivers say that they are now earning too much money from unemployment, stimulus checks, and other side jobs to return to work for Uber and Lyft's low rates. These drivers say Uber and Lyft will need to offer far more bonuses than they are now to bring them back to the app.
Defector: When Gig Workers Die on the Job, They Die Alone
On March 29, DoorDash delivery driver Francisco Villalva Vitinio was killed following an altercation with a stranger over his bike. This is not the first time violent crime targeted an app-based worker: violence against gig workers is common, and because companies don't consider them employees, they have little protection. In some states workers aren't entitled to worker's compensation, and even under laws like Prop 22, workers aren't entitled to paid leave or family support in case of death. This harsh reality has inspired some workers to organize behind groups like the Gig Workers Collective to campaign for worker reclassification and better protections and benefits.
Bloomberg: Union Appeals Amazon Election in Complaint Claiming Misconduct
The Retail Warehouse and Department Store Union has filed a formal complaint and demand for a redo of the Bessemer Amazon warehouse vote, citing 23 distinct violations including threatening workers with unemployment and loss of benefits if the union prevailed.
The New York Times: ‘Master,’ ‘Slave’ and the Fight Over Offensive Terms in Computing
The Internet Engineering Task Force began a discussion on their email list serve last year about racist terms in computer code, like "master," "slave," "whitelist," and "blacklist." Yet, the group operates off a consensus structure (rather than approving actions with a majority vote), and aversions to "conversations about community comportment, behavior — the human side of things," have held up action. Others wonder whether a debate over language misses bigger problems in tech, like diversity and human rights.
KQED: The Biggest Tech Unionization Effort Is Happening at the New York Times
This piece was published Tuesday, and in the time since then, the 700-plus tech workforce at the New York Times has joined up with union that represents the Time's journalism staff. KQED's Sam Harnett provides deep context and quotes from many of the organizing workers(including his own brother).
Washington Post: Emails show Amazon pressed Postal Service for mailbox, a move a union believes violates labor law
The Washington Post expressed its independence from its owner today, publishing new revelations of Amazon's Bessemer, Alabama union-busting shenanigans. Apparently, after asking the NLRB to place a mailbox at the site and being denied, Amazon went directly to the US Postal Service to pressure it to place a drop box there, and subsequently both USPS and its biggest customer lied about it. The Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union has previously complained that the on-site mailbox amounts to intimidation and provides Amazon undue control, and today's revelations bolster those claims.
Vice: Amazon Workers in Chicago Strike Over Ruthless ‘Megacycle’ Shifts
As the world waits for the final tally of the union vote at the Bessemer, Alabama warehouse, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Chicago have walked out in protest over grueling shift policies. Shockingly, Amazon's clapback intimidation on Twitter doesn't seem to have quelled workers' appetite for a place at the table.
The Verge: Gimlet and Ringer unions detail their first historic contracts with Spotify
Spotify negotiated contracts with the Writers Guild of America, East, representing workers for The Ringer and Gimlet Media. The three-year contract includes base salaries, guaranteed annual increases, diversity hiring and a provision limiting the use of contractors beyond ten months. The union was unable to secure intellectual property rights for the workers to the content they create.
Tech Workers Coalition: Civis’ pro-labor, pro-union claims should apply to its workers
In the recent Tech Workers Coalition newsletter, workers at the 'progressive' data analytics firm Civis Analytics explain how they were fired after trying to organize. The story highlights how companies touting progressive goals don't always have worker's best intensions in mind.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Rubio assures Amazon workers: The GOP is firmly not *not* on your side
Is there any issue today that can't be twisted into a front in the culture wars? Apparently not, judging from a head-spinning op-ed from Marco Rubio in USA Today.