Big Tech's addiction to illegal, overreaching NDAs protects wage discrimination, sexual harassment, and other evils by "terrorizing" employees

NDAs were once used exclusively to protect bona fide trade secrets, but today's Big Tech companies force new hires to sign far-ranging NDAs that exceed the law in many ways (for example, by banning employees from discussing illegal workplace conditions), as a means of "terrorizing" employees into keeping their mouths shut, lest they face threats from the company's high-powered lawyers. Read the rest

Uber drivers across America are going on strike -- UPDATED

Update: Shona from Gig Workers Rising clarifies: "Gig Workers Rising isn't organizing the national day of action. Drivers in each of the 6 cities taking action are coordinating the day of action together. Drivers in LA with Rideshare Drivers United Los Angeles called a strike and asked other cities to take action on the same day. Gig Workers Rising supports and educates drivers who are organizing across the state. We are not organizing drivers."

On May 8, Uber drivers are organizing a nationwide shutdown of Uber, with drivers turning off their apps in protest over low pay: so far, seven cities' drivers are signed up: Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Minneapolis, LA and DC. Uber and Lyft have both slashed pay for drivers and raised prices as they try to assuage the capital markets. Read the rest

Short videos of skilled and playful workers performing their jobs with acrobatic flair

Kaitlyn Reed created a Twitter thread of videos of (mostly Chinese) workers performing manual tasks with incredible acrobaticism, dexterity and flair; the videos were ganked from Tiktok, the massively popular China-based video platform that is mostly know in the west as a place where tweens make and share elaborately choreographic lipsync videos augmented with a suite of skillfully applied video effects. Read the rest

Lulzy Instagram memers are organizing a deadly serious trade union

The IG Meme Union Local 69-420 is pretty damned lulzy, but the organizers are dead serious about creating a union that will negotiate on behalf of memers with Instagram and other tech platforms that exploit them by alienating their labor. Read the rest

The Pinkertons' plan for climate change: a mercenary army that guards one-percenters as the seas rise

The Pinkertons rose to notoriety as a vicious army of mercenary strikebreakers who beat and murdered working people who stood up to robber barons like Andrew Carnegie; now they are a division of Securitas, a global private security giant at the forefront of profiting from human misery. Read the rest

How hedge funds, Goldman Sachs, and corrupt executives used Gymboree's chaotic bankruptcy to cash out while destroying the careers of loyal employees

Gymboree is one of the many companies acquired by Mitt Romney's Bain Capital, through a "leveraged buyout" through which the company was loaded up with debt so that the hedge fund could cash out; the company was left with massive debts and cycled through a succession of incompetent, inexperienced grifter CEOs who eventually ran the company into bankruptcy. Read the rest

Kickstarter employees want to unionize under OPEIU and have formed Kickstarter United to make that happen

Kickstarter United is organizing Kickstarter employees under the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153, joining other tech startups like Gimlet and Vox in a bid to unionize. Read the rest

From prisons to factories to offices: the spread of workplace surveillance and monitoring tech

A new report from Data & Society (previously) goes into depth on the ways that employers are increasingly rolling out workplace surveillance and monitoring technologies that "exert greater control over large workforces, rapidly experiment with workflows, detect deviant behavior, evaluate performance, and automate tasks." Read the rest

Massive study finds strong correlation between "early affluence" and "faster cognitive drop" in old age

A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reports on new analysis of the Survey of Health, Aging, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), which tracks outcomes for 24,066 people aged 50-96 with a good balance of genders (56% female), and reports a strong correlation between "early affluence" and "faster cognitive drop" in "verbal fluency" (measured with an animal naming challenge). SHARE is the largest study of its kind, with more than double the subjects of similar projects. Read the rest

Striking West Virginia teachers won swift and decisive victory; Oakland next?

2019 has seen a string of bold and successful teachers' strikes that built on last years' #RedForEd strikes: the new wave of strikes goes beyond paychecks and funding, though, and takes aim at charter schools as a system for the stealth privatization of public education. Read the rest

Artists against Article 13: when Big Tech and Big Content make a meal of creators, it doesn't matter who gets the bigger piece

Article 13 is the on-again/off-again controversial proposal to make virtually every online community, service, and platform legally liable for any infringing material posted by their users, even very briefly, even if there was no conceivable way for the online service provider to know that a copyright infringement had taken place. Read the rest

AFL-CIO open letter to game devs: things won't get better until you unionize

In the wake of Blizzard/Activision's announcement of mass layoffs following record profits, Liz Shuler of the AFL-CIO has published an open letter on Kotaku addressed to workers in the notoriously abusive video game industry, calling on them to unionize as the only path to a fair deal. Read the rest

India's e-waste recycling "markets" are toxic nightmares filled with child laborers

Millions of tons of e-waste -- much of it from rich countries like Australia -- are recycled in India, in "markets" with terrible, dangerous working conditions and equally awful environmental controls. Read the rest

LA Times demands that reporters sign away rights to books, movies and other works they create while working at the paper

The LA Times Guild has been negotiating a new contract with the newspaper, but has hit a wall thanks to an unprecedented demand from the paper's owners: they want writers to sign away the rights to nonfiction books, novels, movies and other works they create separate from their reporting for the paper. The newspaper is also demanding the right to use reporters "byline, biography and likeness" to market these works. Read the rest

Burning Man purges one-percenter camp that charged up to $100K, littered like crazy, and ripped off its attendees

Burning Man has long struggled with the tension between its commitment to "radical decommodification" and grifters and their ultra-high-net-worth marks who organize "turnkey camps" where you can pay giant sums to pretend to be a Burning Man "participant" while being looked after by paid "sherpas" (including, rumor has it, sex workers), in luxury settings designed to repel non-paying attendees (sometimes guarded by private security guards). Read the rest

Blizzard/Activision celebrates record revenues by laying off 800 employees

Blizzard/Activision posted $7.5b in net revenues for 2018, and announced that it would lay off 800 of the employees who made those revenues possible, but fear not! The last time the company did a mass layoff (600 people in 2012), it generously rehired those people as temps, doing the same jobs for less pay, with no security or benefits. Read the rest

Trump's properties routinely employed (and abused) undocumented Latinx workers, including dozens from a single Costa Rican town

The Washington Post tracked down workers from Santa Teresa de Cajon in Costa Rica, who say that they and their neighbors were part of a "pipeline" from Central America to Trump properties in New Jersey and elsewhere, where they worked doing construction, groundskeeping, and cleaning, with the full knowledge of their supervisors and Trump Organization managers (a claim verified by a police report detailing a warning from local officials to Trump Organization bosses about the number of undocumented workers on Trump's property). Read the rest

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