The biggest labor stories of 2020 – TechCrunch

Hellu, 2021! Welcome to Human Capital, a weekly newspaper that gives the latest in the field of labor, and diversity and inclusion.

Not a ton happened this week, so I figured I’d use the time to look back at some of the more notable labor stories of 2020.

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Gig Workers v. Uber, Lyft, Instacart et al.

California’s Proposition 22, supported by gig companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, was passed to ensure that gig workers are classified as independent contractors. This was an important proposal that resulted in the Yes side contributing $ 200 million north to its efforts. But the fight is not over, About which you can read here.

Amazon Stumble

Amazon faced several labor disputes throughout the year – many of them involved Warehouse workers And Surveillance.

An example: Christian Small, a former Amazon employee, was fired from Amazon in March after conducting a walkout at one of the company’s fulfillment centers in Staten Island. As a result, the New York Attorney General is investigating whether Amazon violated federal worker safety laws and New York State’s whistleblower safety laws by firing small.

The end of Small helped inspire other warehouse workers who later formed an international organization to demand change inside Amazon’s warehouses. Organizers pointed to labor retaliation as one of the driving factors for the formation of Amazon Workers International. Meanwhile, Amazon officials reportedly discussed maligning Small and making him the face of the organized movement.

An Amazon spokesperson previously told TechCrunch that the company did not fire Smalls for organizing the protests. Instead, Amazon said it had “endangered the health and safety of others and violated the terms of her employment.”

In November, Small filed a lawsuit against Amazon, alleging that the company failed to provide PPE to its workers.

Tech workers union

kick And Glitch became two of the first tech companies to form a consortium. Kickstarter activists voted to form the union in February. one month later, Glitch’s activists voted to form a union.

In September, at least ten tech companies were actively looking for unions, OPEIU head Northeast Union organizer Grace Racers told TechCrunch at the time.

“Employees are seeing that they don’t really have control over how the products they make are being used,” she said. “Even though most messaging in Silicon Valley is about making a better world for us, making our lives easier and new, it also runs under the philosophy of stepping up and breaking things.”

Disclosure: My partner works in glitches and serves on the bargaining committee of the union.

Pinterest finds itself under heavy scrutiny

Ifyoma Ozoma and Erica Shimizu Bank, two former Pinterest employees, Talked about racial and gender discrimination in the company. Shortly after, former COO of Pinterest Francois Brougher Sued the company Accused of gender discrimination. Pinterest settled the suit for $ 22.5 million.

But Ojoma and Banks rated me second-rate in their experiences compared to the Breacher. While Brougher received a $ 20 million payment, Ozoma and Banks received a severance of less than a year.

“It follows a time-honored tradition in America where black women come forward, defy a trail, expose injustice and white women and reap all the benefits of that,” Banks told me.

Dr. Timneet Gabru’s going to Google makes waves

San Francisco, CA – SEPTEMBER 07: Google AI Research Scientist Timnit Gabru spoke on stage during Day 3 of Techcon Discharge SF 2018 on September 7, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kimberly White / Getty Image for TechCrunch)

A top AI researcher, Dr. Timneet Gabru, Said he was removed from Google Sending an email for his direct report discussing how he was frustrated for his organization’s approach to DEI as well as the approval process around his research paper. Gebru sent that email to Google after he was not allowed to attach the names of him and his colleagues in the AI ​​Ethics paper about Google’s model. Gabru had previously sent an email to his superiors stating that he would prepare to leave if they did not meet his specific conditions. Google proceeded to tell her that he accepted her resignation and cut off her access to her work email.

In December, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said it would review events leading up to Gabru’s departure. In Pichai’s memo, he said that the company “needs to accept responsibility for the fact that a prominent black woman who has immense talent left Google unhappy.” He also mentioned how it has a “ripple effect” through Google’s underestimated communities.

Alexis Ohanian makes space at the table for Black people

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian Removed from the company’s board of directors, Insisted that Reddit replace him with a black person. Reddit consulted Ohanian and Appoints Y Combinator CEO Michael Siebel.

Trouble in peer space wing

Washington, DC-APR9: Audrey Gelman, founder of The Wing, the only co-working space and organization of women, on April 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Wing, which debuted in NYC and DC, is their first location outside of New York. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein / via Getty Image for The Washington Post)

The wing exploded following allegations of racism and other forms of discrimination. Its CEO, Audrey Gelman, resigned as a result and Later apologized for not taking any action.

In a note sent to former employees, Gelman apologized for not taking action to combat abuse of women of color in The Wing. He also acknowledged that his drive for success and scaling “came at the expense of a healthy and sustainable culture that matched our perceived values ​​and workplace practices, which made our team feel valued and respected.”

This means that, Gelman said, the “wing” had not taken back the historical oppression and racist roots of the hospitality industry; We prepared it as a killer [sic], Gentler Edition. “

TechCrunch Session: Justice is on the horizon

TC Session: Justice is hitting your virtual screen this March. You’ll be able to hear from people like Backstage Capital’s Arlan Hamilton, Gig Workers Collective’s Vanessa Bain, Christian Small and others.

Have tickets Available here for $ 5.