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US tech industry sees growing wave of employee activism



U.S. tech employees are collectively taking action like never before in a broad push for better conditions, job security, higher wages and more, The Associated Press reported Sunday.

Despite six-figure salaries and unlimited vacation time, many tech workers have been questioning the effects of their work and joining forces with more blue-collar, service and contract-worker counterparts, pressing for better working conditions and pay.

 Tech workers marching to support Facebook's cafeteria workers in San Francisco last month. (AP Photo / Samantha Maldonado)

Tech workers marching to support Facebook's cafeteria workers in San Francisco last month. (AP Photo / Samantha Maldonado)
      

"It's unprecedented, both the magnitude of the power of these companies and the willingness of white-collar employees to shake themselves the privilege that they have and to really see the impact of the work they're doing," Veena said Dubal, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law who has interviewed the profession of tech workers involved in organizing.

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Among Broader Activism: Amazon and Microsoft employees demand the companies stop providing services to software company Palantir, which provides technology to federal agencies including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the US Army; Amazon employees urge company to transition to renewable energy and confronted CEO Jeff Bezos at a shareholder meeting; and, after last year's walkouts over Google's handling of sexual misconduct cases, employees signed a letter protesting Project Dragonfly, a search engine that would comply with Chinese censorship.

The phenomenon has been particularly strong in the San Francisco Bay Area, home to Salesforce, Google and Palantir, among others.

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The bastion of activism and progressive culture has been hit hard by the tech boom's housing affordability crisis.

“There's a lot of power (that) people are being asked to build for shareholders of these companies and the management of these companies, ”said Ian Busher, 28, a former contract analyst for Google and an organizer with the Bay Area chapter of Democratic Socialists of America. “If You Want to Make the World a Better Place, You Should Exercise Judgment and Democracy with People Who Are Working to Build These Tools.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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