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The New Tech Revolution – Politics

28 Mar

Seems a lot of time and energy was spent last election cycle on people who are not working. Not much about the 95% who are. A little known fact due to the antique ways the Government Economists draw up the numbers is the technology related services and non-manufacturing portion of America’s GDP is larger than Manufacturing. The Tech Industry employs over 6.7 million people. The U.S. tech industry is a major driving force in the overall economy, accounting for 7.1 percent of overall GDP and 11.6 percent of total private sector payroll. While roughly 12.3 million are involved in manufacturing, the oversize impact on the percentage of US payroll is driven by higher wages – A U.S. tech industry worker averages an annual wage of $105,400 compared to $51,600 for the average private sector wage. That isn’t readily apparent by looking at the Government numbers because the Tech Industry is split across hardware manufacturing and services.

The US has lost about 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2010, since the Great Recession that number is about 7 million.. The truth is that America has lost some 7 million manufacturing jobs and added some 53 million jobs in services. Further, of those 53 million new jobs some 62% of them were in higher paying occupations than those “high paying good jobs” in manufacturing we lost.

The canard that somehow “regulations”, as well a bringing manufacturing jobs back to America…Is total “Vaporware”. Robots have, and will continue to replace humans, especially in heavy manufacturing – meaning those new “factories” will be empty of people.What the impact of removing those regulations and seriously tilting the landscape in favor of the corporation over the workers will be has yet to be seen.

However, with 6.5 million tech works, and perhaps another 10-15 million jobs dependent on the tech industry. Tech workers are a powerful political force. Life is about to get really tough for those wanting to roll back worker protections, pursue antiquated social agendas, and operating to the benefit if the 1% …

“The Matrix” is organizing into a political leviathan to oppose Trump and his backward thinking political party. This is war.

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The Tech Industry Joins the Political Fray

Across the sector, employees are asking their companies and top executives to engage in policy battles in a way that departs from long-standing precedent.

However expansive its ambitions to change the world might be, the tech industry is not known as a hotbed of activism. Historically, tech employees went to work, got the job done, and didn’t talk much about politics.

But in the wake of Donald’s Trump’s election, political talk is nearly everywhere—at company-wide meetings, in discussions among coworkers in the cafeterias, and in employee resource-group meet-ups. For obvious reasons: Many of the policies and views of the Trump administration are anathema to most of the tech industry. In particular, the sector is heavily populated by immigrants—many founders and senior leaders are immigrants, and 60 percent of STEM employees in Silicon Valley are foreign-born (for comparison, only 17 percent of the overall American labor force is foreign-born)—and Trump’s immigration policies (both proposed and enacted) constitute a clear threat to both the industry’s profits and its meritocratic ideology. His brand of politics—“closed borders,” “alternative facts”—is at odds with the primacy the industry places on data, openness, and the free flow of talent around the globe.

Trump’s victory in November stunned many tech employees. Barrie Segal, a senior program manager at the database company MongoDB, said, “There was a lot of confusion and sadness. People were openly weeping in the office. I’ve never seen that before at work.” As one senior manager at a major tech company described it, “It was like a bomb dropped and people died.” (Despite the outpouring of anti-Trump sentiment in the industry, many people I spoke with and the companies they work for asked not to be identified on the record, citing sensitive political times. Such concerns indicate that there are limits to just how public and forthcoming the industry will be with its activism.)

In response, an uptick in activism is evident throughout the industry: Attendance at meetings of advocacy groups like the Tech Workers Coalition have spiked. New organizations like Tech Solidarity have emerged. Last week, at a rally held by a new group called Tech Stands Up, around 1,000 people showed up over the course of the afternoon in downtown Palo Alto to show their support.

Back in late January, in the days after Trump’s first executive order on immigration barring refugees and stopping all entry of citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, more than 2,000 at eight Google offices walked out to protest the order. There was thunderous applause when Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, and its co-founder, Sergey Brin, spoke at the walkout. “It was a powerful moment,” said one senior manager at Google who attended. “I’ve never been to anything like that at work before. The walkout was definitely in support of what the leadership is doing. But not so subtly, it was also a challenge not to compromise.” Noting that the leadership team at Google would be exposing the company to risk by actively opposing Trump, the manager said that employees have been given assurances that executives are “using [their] influence behind the scenes” to stand up for what they believe is right. “But there was an unstated message at the walkout,” the manager said. “‘Don’t fuck this up.’”

Inspired by those Google employees, workers at Comcast organized their own protest. To coordinate logistics and share information, an internal channel on Slack, an instant-messaging app, named “Walk Out” was set up. Within days, 1,700 people had joined the Slack channel and about a thousand Comcast employees at offices in several states walked out. After the walkout, employees wanted to keep up their political engagement and extend their reach beyond their company, so they created another Slack channel, a public one called “Innovation Activism,” for connecting with people across the tech industry in Philadelphia, where Comcast is headquartered. Internal company Slack channels have been created so that employees can keep each other updated with political information about things like which organizations to support and the phone numbers of congressional representatives.

“Workplace politicking of this kind is highly unusual,” says Sarah Soule, a professor of organizational behavior at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University (and a colleague of mine). “Typically, workplace activism is focused on issues internal to the firm. Workers go on strike because they are unhappy with pay or working conditions. They push companies to offer domestic-partner benefits or improve their environmental practices. The goal is to get the company itself to change its practices in some way.”

What is happening right now in tech is different: Rather than advocating for internal policies, employees are putting pressure on their companies to become vocal opponents of the Trump administration—by having CEOs make public statements, by turning down certain government contracts, by signing on to legal briefs contesting Trump’s policies. Of the 127 companies that signed onto the amicus brief filed in support of Washington state’s legal challenge to the immigration executive order, the majority are tech companies.

Coworker.org, a digital platform designed to give workers more of a voice at their companies through online petitions and internal social networks, has seen a substantial increase in engagement since election day. “For the past few years, most of the campaigns have been in the retail and service sectors among front-line workers like baristas and bank tellers,” says Michelle Miller, a co-founder of Coworker.org. “But since the election, a greater variety of industries are reaching out to us. We could double our staff and put one person just on tech and we still would not be able to meet the demand.”

Not only is this form of workplace activism rare, but this kind of rapid political mobilization is also rare. It usually takes place only under certain circumstances, like when people feel that their way of life is under threat. Such was the case after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979. Prior to the accident, environmental activism in the surrounding area was minimal. But afterward, many of the middle-class residents living nearby, who had no previous history of political protest, came out en masse.

Called “suddenly imposed grievances” or “moral shocks” by researchers, events like Three Mile Island and the 2016 presidential election are galvanizing political forces because they generate intense concern, and people who become the most politicized are those most outraged and directly threatened by the grievance. Since tech is uniquely under threat both ideologically and economically, it is exactly the industry one might expect to take on a new activist vigor. This also sheds light on the lack of response in other industries. Notably, no old-school car companies, finance or insurance companies, food conglomerates, or large retailers signed onto the amicus brief or saw employees at corporate go off the job in protest—perhaps because under Trump they are less at risk.

For many in tech, this is the first time they’ve taken part in political activism in their lives. Aaron Martin-Colby, a Comcast engineer who helped to organize the walkout there, said, “I’ve never done something like this before. I’ve been reluctant to invest anything emotional into politics because of the gridlock. But Trump has the power to do a great deal of unjust harm. I’ve realized it’s important that I make noise.”

Taking their activism a step further, other companies are putting their own proprietary tools to work in opposing Trump. After the executive order on immigration, the social-gathering platform Meetup decided to hold a “resist-a-thon.” The company’s business operations stopped for two days and during that time employees launched over 1,000 “#Resist” Meetup groups in 1,000 cities. To lower the barrier to entry, they made joining these groups free and enabled anyone in the group to schedule an event. They promoted these groups to their 30 million members and partnered with organizations like Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union to distribute ideas for promoting activism, such as hosting an emergency meetup to talk about how to protect Planned Parenthood or meetups to provide training on how to organize. The “#Resist” Meetup groups launched on February 6. Within a week, they had 50,000 members. As of last week, they had over 120,000 members involved, 6,500 related events scheduled, and more than 45,000 people who had RSVP’d….Read the rest here

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Posted by on March 28, 2017 in Second American Revolution

 

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