CODE-CWA Newsletter: May 21

CODE-CWA Newsletter: May 21

Palestinians are overwhelmingly affected by the militarized colonial violence occurring in the region. Please heed the requests framed by Palestinian Googlers and center their voices going forward. We ask Google leadership to make a company-wide statement recognizing the violence in Palestine and Israel, which must include direct recognition of the harm done to Palestinians by Israeli military and gang violence. Both Israelis and Palestinians are hurting right now, but ignoring the destructive and deadly attacks faced by Palestinians erases our Palestinian coworkers. - Jewish Googlers write letter to their CEO

As tech workers feel a moral and internationalist obligation to organize in the belly of the tech beast, Jewish Googlers spoke up for their Palestinian colleagues in a letter to their CEO, asking the company to increase its support of Palestinians amid Israel’s deadly bombing campaign in Gaza, and Muslim workers at Apple organized a letter asking for the company to support Palestinains. These actions come as tech workers in the games industry also realise that their labour and work is being erased by the industry's malicious and exploitative crediting system. While Amazon continues its relentless abusive practices, this time warning employees not to trust their unionizing co-workers, while five employees take them to court for discrimination and harassment.

Union organizing and conversations around unfair and exploitative practices are picking up steam in the tech industry. In this newsletter, we give you the latest on tech worker organizing, from Ziff Davis Creators Guild which represents PCMag, Mashable and AskMen to Alphabet Workers Union at Google, and more! Through our support of workers across the tech, games, and digital industries we have seen a cultural shift as workers turn to each other to bring the change they seek. This commitment to building democracy in the workplace will impact all of us. Are you looking to organize your workplace? Reach out. We are ready to organize with you.


On May 22, join us at a 10AM PST class where we talk about how to build a strong organizing committee, maintain it, and build a strong foundation from which you can run a successful union campaign. Training is active and participatory. We do not let anyone join more than 10 minutes late.This is Class 2 in a series. Ideally students should take Class 1 first, but it's not required. Class 1 will be offered at 12PM PST on Sunday, May 23. Sign up here.

While you're signing up for classes don’t forget to check out our new “Organizing Training” page on the CODE-CWA website. You’ll find a training program overview, additional resources to strengthen your organizing study, a briefing on your right to organize and more! Check it out here.

Worker News

Jewish Googlers Support Palestinians and Ask Google to Protect anti-Zionist Speech

A group of Jewish Google employees is calling on the company to increase its support of Palestinians. In an internal letter, Google workers ask CEO Sundar Pichai to put out a statement that has a “direct recognition of the harm done to Palestinians by Israeli military and gang violence.” The letter currently has 250 signatures.The request is coming from a new employee resource group which formed last year in response to pro-Zionist sentiment within Google’s official Jewish ERG. “Google is the world’s largest search engine and any repression of freedom of expression occurring within the company is a danger not only to Googlers internally but to all people around the world,” they wrote in an FAQ. Read more on Verge.

Google Childcare Workers Circulate Petition After Successful Intern Organizing

Google childcare and education workers say they're being summoned back to the office while Google shuttles are still down and are petitioning for commute stipends because their pay can be as low as $25/hour. “Shifting this cost to essential workers, who earn far less than the Googlers whose children they care for, is unacceptable. Google can be an extraordinary problem solver, but is choosing not to solve this problem for its childcare workers,”according to the petition, which members of the Alphabet Workers Union drafted and began circulating. The strategy was inspired by a group of Google interns who got part of their stipend back after writing an internal letter. Read more on Bloomberg.

The Military Is Creating a ‘Gig Eagle’ App to Uber-ize Its Workforce

The Defense Innovation Unit, an organization within the Department of Defense focused on adopting commercial technology, is building an Uber-like app called “Gig Eagle” to match part-time service members possessing private sector experience with program managers.

"We are creating a gig economy for the Department of Defense," Sarah Pearson, a DIU executive, said.. "You could think about it almost like an Uber but for the DoD." Read more Motherboard.

Gamers Say Their Industry Has a Credit Problem

Crediting is a huge area of concern within the video game industry. It’s a problem that affects game workers at every level, from third-party contractors to employees at some of the biggest publishers and studios in the world. The impact of not being credited can be devastating, potentially reducing an employee’s future career opportunities and limiting their ability to self-advocate. Crediting in games largely depends on the whim of the employer; many have their own exclusionary terms that they’re unwilling to change. According to Emma Kinema, who is leading Code CWA unionization efforts in the tech and games industry, “There are tons of companies that are actively using crediting as a way to have leverage over the workers and keep them dependent on the company and that’s actively malicious crediting.” She added, “That is part of a systemic approach of trapping workers in a studio, while also denying them promotions and pay raises and title raises.” Read more on the Washington Post.

Amazon Hit By 5 More Discrimination and Harassment Lawsuits

Five women who have worked at Amazon in corporate roles or in warehouse management filed separate discrimination and retaliation lawsuits against the tech giant according to complaints filed in various US district courts. The women allege that they were retaliated against by white managers for complaining internally about race, gender, or sexual harassment or discrimination that they experienced. Two of the women are Black, one is Latina, one is Asian American, and one is white. Three of the women still work at Amazon and two are former employees. Their lawyers said in a statement. “Amazon can no longer dismiss abusive behavior and retaliation by white managers as mere anecdotes. These are systemic problems, entrenched deep within the company.” Read more on Recode.

European Lawmakers Ask Jeff Bezos to Testify About Union-Busting

European lawmakers are calling on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to testify before European Parliament at a hearing on May 27, Agnes Jongerius, a member of European Parliament and spokesperson on employment and social affairs. The hearing, which will focus on violations of workers' rights and union activity at Amazon, follows increased scrutiny of Amazon's labor practices in Europe, where laws protecting union activity are much stronger than they are in the United States. Read more on Motherboard.

Mashable, PCMag and Overwhelmingly Vote to Strike

After two years of negotiating with management, the Ziff Davis Creators Guild announced that 97% of its members have voted to authorize a strike.The announcement comes as the guild returns to the bargaining table to negotiate compensation increases for guild members. The guild, which has around 70 members, represents the editorial staffs of PCMag, Mashable and AskMen. The vote authorizes the guild to organize a strike, but it’s not a de facto declaration of a forthcoming strike. The guild hopes to use the announcement to show management that ZDCG members are committed to their demands and willing to take collective action. Read more on Adweek.

This Week in Labor History

20 May 1926: On this day the Railway Labor Act passed, requiring employers to bargain collectively and not discriminate against their employees for joining a union. The act also provided for the settlement of railway labor disputes through mediation, voluntary arbitration, and fact-finding boards.

Song of the Week

Capitalist Blues by Leyla McCalla

You keep telling me to go a little higher

Try to take a different view

But you can see I'm not inspired

I've got the Capitalist Blues

And if I give everything

I won't have much more to lose

It's not fair, it's not right

I don't know what I'm gonna do with my life

It's not fair, it's not right

I wasn't born to just endure all this strife

Tryna make my way in this cold, cold world

It can be such a cold, cold world