A Lecture by Moira Weigel and Ben Tarnoff (writers and co-founders of Logic Magazine).
The IT sector of the labor market in Germany and elsewhere is commonly portrayed as an example of the fulfillment of many demands the worker movement ever expressed: flexible working hours, reasonable pay and a task profile which likes to describe itself as «creative». Following this description of the domain, one wonders whether employees in tech would ever feel the need to break the chains of an individualized working culture and seek strength in union to make their voices heard.
And yet, when we observe the working conditions today, the picture differs from the one outlined above: the tech domain is filled with people who are stuck in precarious living conditions, where working long hours in a start-up has become the new normal and an unrestricted labor agreement seems always only one project-related employment away.
If this is true for an European perspective on the tech labor market, it is especially true for the Silicon Valley, where engineers, designers, product managers and the like have recently more and more begun to see themselves as workers and build a common identity based on mutual interests and in opposition to Silicon Valley elites.
These members of the new tech worker movement don’t sound much like the «hippie yuppies» of Californian Ideology lore. They embrace a more collective, worker-driven politics and building alliances with the shuttle drivers, security guards, janitors, and cafeteria staff who make up the industry’s «invisible workforce.»
At Amazon, employees petitioned CEO Jeff Bezos for «a choice in what [they] build, and a say in how it is used.» At Google, tech workers are challenging their employers to drop contracts with the Pentagon, ICE, and other government agencies. They organise for workplaces free from sexual harassment and discrimination and demand better wages, benefits, and working conditions for the contractors who supply much of the labor that makes the industry run.
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