CODE-CWA Newsletter: September 18

This week we’re feeling motivated. Lots of the worker news in this week’s newsletter is positive movement.

From consultants at progressive political agency Blue State winning their CODE-CWA unionization campaign and joining CWA, to a Facebook employee becoming a prominent whistleblower, to nurses in the south winning their largest unionization campaign since 1975, it’s hard to feel like the labor movement isn’t gaining momentum during this pandemic.

Now it’s our job to continue to build power in the tech industry! Are you ready to get started? Get in touch, and let’s build together.

Events

For the next month, CODE-CWA is offering free, online training courses on Saturdays and Sundays.

 

Experts will walk you through the 101 of how to start talking to your coworkers and organize your first campaign. Enroll online today!

Worker News

Welcome to CWA, Blue State Union! A supermajority of workers at Blue State has voted to form a union, and they organized with CODE-CWA. Blue State is a strategy agency that works on progressive campaigns. In the past, they’ve worked with Amnesty International, Teach for America, and Obama’s 2012 campaign. Blue State workers say that while they appreciate the company’s mission-driven philosophy, they want to see a more inclusive culture at work. Now they’ll have a seat at the table in these discussions. More on Medium.

 

Reporters at Buzzfeed gained access to a 6,000+ word memo originally posted by an engineer at Facebook on the company’s internal forums detailing the extensive political corruption she witnessed while at Facebook. She alleges that Facebook leadership was aware of political leadership in Azerbaijan and Honduras using fake accounts to sway public opinion and failed to act for months. Coordinated campaigns to influence elections were carried out in India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador. This explosive memo is an absolute must-read. More at Buzzfeed.

 

Amazon workers got some support this week in the form of Senators Sherrod Brown from Ohio and Ron Wyden from Oregon. The two senators wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos demanding that he stop surveilling his employees. This comes after Motherboard first revealed that Amazon was using new technology to find workers organizing strikes or protests online to preemptively squash them. More at Business Insider.

 

Morning Brew calls it activism. We call it organizing. Regardless, this writeup in the Morning Brew newsletter discusses the impact remote work has had on tech worker organizing. While there are cons to digital organizing — Zoom fatigue and increased concerns about security among others — in some ways remote work has facilitated organizing. For example, working parents who previously had to rush home to feed their children after work can now log on to Zoom calls in the evening. More at Morning Brew.

 

The National Labor Review Board has determined that Kickstarter illegally fired Taylor Moore in 2019 for his involvement in labor organizing. This is a major win, but it’s important to remember it’s the exception, not the rule. Unsurprisingly, the government rarely rules in workers’ favor. In the words of the Collective Action in Tech Twitter account, “Do not rely on institutions, only each other.” More at Vice.

 

Over 1,300 nurses at for-profit hospital MCA Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina voted to unionize this Wednesday. The workers will be joining National Nurses United. According to National Nurses United, this is the biggest union victory at any hospital in the South since 1975. More at the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Organizing Tip of the Month

In February of this year, Kickstarter workers voted to form the first Silicon Valley tech union in U.S. history. This week organizers released an invaluable resource in hopes of helping other tech workers get organized.

In the words of Kickstarter worker Clarissa Redwine, “The stories of organized labor don't belong to our companies, they don’t belong to the media, they belong to us, the workers. This is a collection of first-hand accounts directly from the workers who built Kickstarter and Kickstarter's union.”

Listen to the Kickstarter union oral history here.

Inspired to start your own union drive? Get in touch!

This Week in Labor History

On September 19 in 1981, the AFL-CIO organized their first major demonstration in decades. The Solidary March drew over half a million workers to over 50 marches across the nation. The largest march was at the Capitol in Washington D.C., but there were also marches from New York City to Chicago, and even in largely non-union towns like Charleston, South Carolina. This was some participating cities’ first labor action in decades.

The breaking point that caused the march was the firing of striking air traffic controllers. However, there were years of frustration with the Reagan administration’s anti-worker policies leading up to this point.

The Solidarity March was supported by unions, racial justice organizations, and socialist groups nationwide, making it a mass demonstration of organized labor.

Sadly, though there was discussion at the time of continuing this momentum of coining Solidarity Day as a national holiday, there hasn’t been movement on this issue since.

Read more at The Washington Post.

 

Workers with AFL-CIO strike in front of Sears Roebuck in 1967. | Source: Wikimedia Commons

Song of the Week

Green Day — "Working Class Hero" 

 

(Don't feel like reading anymore? Click the song title to listen instead.)

 

As soon as you're born they make you feel small

By giving you no time instead of it all

Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all

A working class hero is something to be

A working class hero is something to be

 

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school

They hate if you're clever and despise a fool

Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules

A working class hero is something to be

A working class hero is something to be

 

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years

Then they expect you to pick a career

When you can't really function you're so full of fear

A working class hero is something to be

A working class hero is something to be

 

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV

And you think you're so clever and classless and free

But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see

A working class hero is something to be

A working class hero is something to be

 

There's room at the top they are telling you still

But first you must learn how to smile as you kill

If you want to be like all the folks on the hill

A working class hero is something to be

A working class hero is something to be

A working class hero is something to be

A working class hero is something to be

A working class hero is something to be

A working class hero is something to be

 

If you want to be a hero well just follow me

If you want to be a hero well just follow me