Facebook Walkouts: Open Letter to IT workers 

Don’t quit. Reach out to other workers. Join a union. Organise.

Dear all,

We’ve read in the media about the stance taken by some of you with your virtual walkouts concerning Facebook’s handling of Trump’s violent statement against Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters.

Public opinion has recognised that this is an unprecedented stance from Facebook’s workers and an important sign of solidarity with those suffering as a result of racist oppression. 

We understand that some of you don’t know what else could be done in this immensely complex moment and that there are voices calling for resignation from the company for not taking an ethical stance. 

As members of a DiEM25 Spontaneous Collective in a country like Ireland, where the IT sector has a fundamental role in the local economy, we would like to share some thoughts with the workers in the industry.

Silicon Valley was founded on the illusion of the so-called Californian Ideology

That Tech industry has introduced a new kind of capitalism. A capitalism with a green, human, diverse and inclusive face.

It is an industry in which collective bargaining has apparently been considered unnecessary. Where workers are apparently so well paid and treated that unions are superfluous and everybody can be on its own.

In recent years, it has gradually become clear that this was a fairytale. That is was not in fact a different kind of capitalism.

You have slowly begun to realise that despite the good salaries, the free food, the perks and the benefits (always reserved for a supposedly elite few), and despite all the corporate jargon tailored for removing this truth, you still are workers. And even privileged workers are in a weak position when alone.

So, in the last years you have seen that some in the industry have been sexually harassed and have been silenced. And that those who have raised their voice have been fired. That individual bargaining has led to salary inequality, especially for the most vulnerable. That those who tried to convince you that you are part of a big warm family have no issues when it comes to having you laid off when markets go bad. That the companies have no issues in doubling your amount of work and promoting harsh competition among workers, while reiterating that you should keep some time for yourself and respect work-life balance. The same companies that are saving huge money from shutting off offices during the pandemic, and still say that your salaries should be lowered because you are not commuting anymore.

You have also realized that you are part of an industry that has depicted itself as a world of creative free thinkers who worked for the greater good, and ended up being involved in surveillance plans, censored data engines, privacy scandals, and union busting. 

The problem here goes far beyond how to deal with Trump’s violent messages. 

The problem here is structural and is about an industry who discreetly supported Trump because progressives in governments are seen as an existential threat to their interests. 

And with good reason. Progressives are obviously a threat to the common practice perpetrated by digital giants to use loopholes to avoid paying billions in taxes. They are obviously a threat for those who want to be free to run monopolies and oligopolies. 

But big digital giants have to decide what side they are on. They cannot advocate for a more inclusive and open societies and then support those who make them more unjust and divided in order to defend their shareholders interests.

Now you are seeing the hypocrisy at the core of the silicon-valley ideology and you don’t want to be part of this game anymore.

But the solution is not merely in pushing for more philanthropy, or quitting individually. 

You are in a position to have a perspective on the bigger picture.

You have the privilege of not being hunted by your rent. And you have the power that comes with your knowledge and skills.

Use it.

What you often don’t have is solidarity. Because it is being openly and intentionally diminished from the beginning. And because you are being made to believe that you live on a different planet from those in need.

Break this game.

Search for those like you that have already started to organize in your workplace:

Tech Workers Coalition 

Game Workers Unite 

Google worker organization

Those who are not happy with the status quo and have already started to organise. Workers from big companies such as Amazon have united and challenged the status quo through groundbreaking grassroots movements in the past few months. 

Start to interrogate yourself on the impact produced by the companies who buy your work. Reflect on the influence that it has on you and your family. But also on your neighborhood, on the environment, on larger social inequality, on the housing market of your city. How does your work impact our rights to privacy and agency, and our democracies?

We urge you to build solidarity both inside and outside the company. It is only by being united that we can become stronger. By being a part of a union, you can fight sexual harassment as well as other workplace issues that matter to you.  Most importantly, you can protect whistleblowers and fight retaliation from above.

Join a union, and any grassroots movement that you identify with. Work with us to build a better equitable and sustainable future.

Live long, fight and prosper to all.

#BlackLivesMatters

#GoPolitical

#StickToTechIsNotEnough

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