Tech Workers Coalition, or TWC, is a non-hierarchical, international collective of programmers, bug testers, and service workers in the technology fields. In other words, a bunch of nerds worldwide who want to make the world a more equal, better place. There are chapters from San Diego to Berlin to Bangalore, all taking up their own interests and sharing notes on how to push back against tech that infringes on our civil rights and liberties. The work can range from more traditional workplace organizing to work on local politics to restrict and push back against surveillance. The key is that technology should improve life for everyone, and it incorporates anyone who works in tech but isn’t a manager or boss– janitors, rideshare drivers, and programmers collaborate in TWC and drive its work.
It is vitally important that all tech workers engage and collaborate with one-another. It is our work and labor that keeps the company moving. Whether you code the product, test for bugs, identify the images for a Machine Learning set, clean the office, or make the food to keep the nerds continuously typing, all our labor moves the machine. The CEOs and Venture Capitalists receive the press coverage for flashy breakthroughs, but let’s be real: Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos aren’t geniuses designing every widget in their companies. It’s the workers that create the fortunes.
Despite these soaring profits, the average worker has more precarity and less recourse in their workplace. Companies have been skirting labor law by designating delivery drivers as “independent contractors” for years, and after the success of Prop 22 in California literally overturned state law, they’re seeking to expand this model globally. Warehouse careers that could support a decent standard of living are being swallowed by Amazon logistics. And more programming and web-design is being transferred to an overworked, ad-hoc labor system with an eye for automation: MIT is studying computer-directed coding right now for a reason: being a programmer in 2020 is similar to being a machinist in 1973. It’s a good job in danger of automation and dispossession.
The purpose of Tech Workers for Tech Workers, #TW4TW, is to harness our collective power and create a better world, together. The Turkopticon project is a perfect example of this model– MTurk workers understand their workplace, their challenges, and what constitutes a win for their cause. Web developers, academics, and fundraisers can lend a hand and actively collaborate with them (not in a patronizing fashion for them), and together build a platform that can grow over time and adapt to shifting issues in the MTurk system. Giving what you can, whether it’s cash or code or on-the-ground knowledge of your workplace, and we can build infrastructure that makes us less isolated, more powerful, and wins improvements in our workplaces.
Building a new future together will require fighting economic inequality and climate disaster. It will require massive restructuring of the way we live and work to compensate for the rising tides, droughts, and new diseases which will continue to emerge from the current system. It requires us to acknowledge that we each have unique talent and dignity to bring to this work. And to fight, together, and win.
Written by Jacob (Tech Worker)