# 2019-09-21 #OurNetworks2019: The future of workers
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:dart: **Topic:** [The future for workers](https://ournetworks.ca/program/#the-future-for-workers)
:date: **Date:** Sat, Sept 21 @ 4:15-
:open_hands: **Facilitator:** Brett Wallace [:bird:](https://twitter.com/brett_wallace)
:bar_chart: **Slides:** ...
:family: **Who's here?** brett, patcon, ushnish,... (20 ppl)
<sup>(add name if you feel like it)</sup>
:raising_hand: audience comment
... missing context
Labor Workshop (The Future For Workers). Agenda.
1. The problem(s). What are the internal contradictions we, as workers, face (in tech, art, the cultural sector, in the gig economy at large)?
2. How are labor relations manifested in the technologies we consume e.g. algorithmic management, the digital factory running on our data?
3. How do we reclaim forms of autonomy, dignity, transparency and worker power in working conditions and spaces today?
- Goals: 1. Share the range of current issues facing workers today (in art, culture, tech). How are these spaces similar or different? 2. Open dialogue on ideas and language towards alternative pathways and resources to reclaim autonomy
- Allan Sekula
- Letter to Bill Gates - exploration of space between tech, labor, art
- Brett brief intro (the deck will be post online soon- http://brettwallace.com/)
- Part 1: Problems
- Amazon HQ2
- "Amazon is the titan of twenty-first century commerce. In addition to being a retailer, it is now a marketing platform, a delivery and logistics network, a payment service, a credit lender, an auction house, a major book publisher, a producer of television and films, a fashion designer, a hardware manufacturer, and a leading host of cloud server space.” Lina Khan
- Amazon HQ2 - anti-union, but partnering with ICE and trying to extract billions from cities in need.
- Amazon HQ2 - video clip: https://vimeo.com/327184992
- Google. Shout out to those who walked out.
- How do we begin conversations as workers in tech? See TWC for support. https://techworkerscoalition.org/
- Shared Challenges across art, tech and cultural sectors
- Relentless pursuit of short term metrics - profit, seats, eyeballs, markets.
- Culture focused on individual talents, reified by consumerism. People now run to work.
- Corporate responsibility tries to offset company’s footprint, while reinforcing existing system.
- Exploitation of workers
- Companies treat workers as dispensable, yet the freedom of the gig economy is a misnomer.
- Independent Contractors lose rights guaranteed by Fair Labor Standards Act. Follow AB 5.
- In the arts, ‘“do what you love” invites precarity.
- University debt vs. prospects of repaying that debt (big problem for artists).
- Co-option of language and toxic funding models
- “Culture” and “community” and forms of critique are internalized by institutions
- The challenge of maintenance in a “unicorn economy
- In Art (additional)
- Institutions not recognizing union efforts i.e. Kickstarter
- Philanthropy from toxic sources - Sacklers, Kanders etc. Plug for Nan Goldin's work to stage protests. Plug for Decolonize This Place.
- Art incubators
- maybe some art projects don't scale
- small (anti-scale) is also good
- not everything should be compressed for TED
- silicon valley rhetoric adopted into museum culture
- art is an app or product in this context, presented as a pitch
- Silicon Valley values and language extending into cultural sectors. See Mike Pepi's great writing. Also, see Ben Davis's 9.5 Theses on Art and Class: https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/503-9-5-theses-on-art-and-class
- Open Source is draining on those who "maintain it". Parallel to art world is "maintenance art"
- 35 year residency of artist with dept of sanitation (Mierle Laderman Ukeles)
- maintenance art
- Laderman wrote manifesto in 24 h (written in rage in 1969)
- Silvia Federici - from Wages Against Housework
- Gap in wages vs productivity in US over last 40 years
- Decline of unions in US over last several decades
- Part 2: how are labour relations manifested in tech? into art and culture?
- Centralized Platforms where network effects are accrued based on size
- Museums and cultural institutions
- For profit platforms - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Spotify, AirBNB
- Labor platforms - Uber, Handy, Deliveroo, Amazon Mechanical Turk
- Exploitation of workers
- Freelancers and workers inside big tech (cafe workers, security guards)
- Interns, cultural workers in the arts, artists, adjunct professors
- Culture of “work hard, have fun, make history”- DWYL hides precarity
- Mechanisation and social control
- The global shipping container - which enabled production outsourcing
- Truck drivers surveilled based on location, speed, drive time
- AI Ethics i.e. Facial recognition and surveillance capitalism
- :raising_hand: re: Art/Museum transparency (A/M transaparency) project? non-profit
- making more spaces to speak and contribute
- institutions don't have a sense of honour. they lie.
- anon spreadsheet. allows people to whistleblow about institutional lies.
- :raising_hand: another spreadsheet: adjunct rates for universities.
- how many people teach here? 6 hands.
- :raising_hand: re: large NY academic institution, staff encouraged to engage weasly behavior to avoid triggering worker rights (e.g., lingo of "edit" instead of "revise")
- they lean into buerocracy and confusion
- :raising_hand: many practices make the maintainance work invisible (e.g. people coming in at night)
- magic of AI is often hiding people
- trying to think about successful strategies
- facial recognition to the staff?
- maybe NDA and tying severence to it. means that everyone has to discover themselves the badness (e.g., kickstarter. we know about bad behaviour from ppl who wouldn't sign)
- :bulb: A non-disclosure fund that workers contibute into, to lets people NOT say yes to NDA-tied severance
- :raising_hand: re: meowwolf. ... salaries suck. lots of artsy techie pay sucks.
- example of Big Fun Art as coined by critic Ben Davis. Not being critical. high volume.
- [ed: may have misunderstood] art that creates floats and travels around for biennials (holocene?). becomes a symbol and travels
- Part 3
- What are decentralized, alternative pathways?
- Dimensions ○ Bottoms up / needs driven / socially driven / co-operation / social justice / environmental protection / democratically structured / new labor relations
- Rochdale Pioneers - 1840’s (coop retail store)
- Rhizomatic structures - student revolt of 1968
- Decentralised secure platforms i.e. Scuttlebutt
- FairBnB, Seed.coop, Loomio, Stocksy United, Up and Go, Equal Care Co-op
- Organizing ○ Art Workers Coalition (and now the 2110)
- Tech Workers Coalition and vertical organizing. Decolonize this place, Chinatown Arts Brigade, Fuck Off Amazon, Bad Bardcode.
- The Lucas Plan.
- Nan Goldin - Pain Sackler protests.
- Profit sharing - Actor’s equity
- Create more employee owned businesses. Get workers a seat on the board
- Solidarity economy
- Worker Power - what does it mean?
- Enspiral. Loomio. spun out of Occupy Wellington in NZ. build tools to support their work. value faciltiation culture in building. Enspiral is a larger network of organizers (non-profits, for-profits co-ops) that strive to "do good work and live well"
- Facilitator says there has been some labour wins, e.g. BAM union, Guggenheim union, Tenement Museum union, Foodora workers in Toronto, AB 5 to re-classify contractors as employees in California.
- :raising_hand: Malka Older. Asks questions like "how do we operate when everything is as network as we can possibly imagine?"
- Rhizomes. Deleuze and Guattari. "networks of cells, any of which action can emerge from"
- :raising_hand: history. strongest period for union was around coal and coal miners. held access to most important fuel. could jam entire society.
- can we get tech people (those who run AWS) to strike?
- ... Critical travel infrastructure like Gatwick airport was stopped for 24 hours due to a drone ...
- ... military ...
- :raising_hand: at event trying to decentralize. centralization often bad, as centralized spots can be captures and controlled, but also clear place to obstruct (gears for workers to throw themselves on)
- :raising_hand: organizing needs to be cross-company.
- tough having enough energy to not just fight, but start new things
- Lucas Aerospace faced redundancies in 1970. Occupying the factory does not matter if there is no demand for the products. Highly skilled industrial workers sketched new plan based on equipment, skills, market available
- re: wikileaks. if money = oxygen, turn off oxygen. strangle via online payment.
- re: gun control. can't stop every mom and pop gun store (ha!) but can use credit cards as chokepoint
- Brad Smith (of microsoft): :books: Tools and Weapons. Interested in how this is positioned and squared up.
- Hillary & Lee. Little Dada. Doing public event exploring speculative future labour situations in Space. Nov 28. Oakwood public library.
- People who might be down for further workers convos
- Patcon @patconnolly
- Nisa @nisamalli
- Ushnish @ultush
- Brett @brett_wallace
- Appendix: links (will incl. hyperlinks)
- Digital Defense Playbook
- The Xenofeminist Manifesto
- Weapons of Math Destruction
- Internet Health Report
- Own This!
- Tech Workers Coalition
- An Economy for the 1%
- What Do We Really Know About worker co-operatives?
- Code Red: Organizing the Tech Secto
- Building Worker Power on the Docks
- The Worker Center Handbook
- Major Win In Forced Arbitration Case
- Below the Poverty Line
- Our World In Data
- Workers of Open Source Unite
- US Federation of Worker Coops
- Solidarity Economic Network