This was the theme of two unprecedented meetings earlier this week in San Francisco and Seattle. Tech workers, including engineers and programmers, gathered for a forum put on by the labor advocacy group Tech Workers Coalition.
The meeting in San Francisco was standing room only. More than 100 tech workers from both small companies and major corporations like Google and Facebook talked about how to organize, challenge their powerful employers and stop the companies they work for from creating products and services they find unethical. This meeting was the latest in what is becoming a rising wave of tech worker activism and protests.
Much of the dissatisfaction from tech employees has taken the form of open letters to CEOs and board members. Employees at Google recently spoke out against work on military drones. The company later decided not to renew its contract with the U.S. Department of Defense. Salesforce and Microsoft workers are currently criticizing contracts with immigration agencies like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Many of the workers at this latest meeting were fearful to talk to media and would do so only if reporters agreed to anonymity. Many of them said they were forced to sign agreements that prevent them from talking directly to the media. One worker said he had once spoken to the media, and afterward was told by his company that he would be fired if he did so again. He has since hired a lawyer.