by: Kendrick Thomas
I first heard about the union campaign at Google from an article on a socialist website. They are calling themselves the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) and they are linked up with the Communication Workers of America (CWA). I haven’t heard any of my coworkers talk about it yet but I think part of that is because Alphabet/Google is primarily a software company, whereas we work in hardware.
Chandler tech workers experience issues similar to those identified by AWU at Google:
As any of our co-workers have seen first hand, our industry relies heavily on the Temp-to-Employee model, which stratifies the workforce between temps and full employees, and also increases turnover of the temp workers. The bosses promise to “consider” making you a full employee after the first year. But, when those promises fall flat, you’re gonna quit and seek other employment.
Our industry is further stratified by the contractor and vendor models, where our work is contracted to other companies whose employees are then treated as second-class workers at the manufacturer’s job site. This includes janitorial staff, food service workers, and security, as well as engineers and technicians. The contract and vendor models are tailor-made to prevent us from organizing a union. The companies atomize us and make the already awkward and daunting task of talking to our co-workers even greater when we’re not technically employed by the same company.
But, Chandler tech workers have other issues that the AWU doesn’t appear to address, like chronic understaffing – so that management can maximize profits at the expense of our health and well-being. Using the pandemic as a cover story, management across the tech sector (even our friends in software are dealing with this) are letting positions sit unfilled while failing to increase compensation for the additional stresses this puts on us.
I think that Valley tech workers need to focus on the basics: working conditions, hours, and wages. We need to stop the stressful working conditions, reduce the ridiculous hours, and raise up the pitiful wages to top-notch salaries. These are what motivates people at a far deeper level than the pie-in-the-sky policy measures that AWU says they want to address first.
I like that the AWU-CWA is “wall to wall” – meaning that all workers, be they temps, contractors, or what-have-you can join. (CWA is doing the same thing at the University of Arizona and supposedly at ASU also.) This is called Industrial Unionism and the IWW has been advocating this for a very long time. It’s right on the mark so let’s do it here, too.
We need to all get in contact and put together an Organizing Committee for Tech workers in the Chandler/Tempe area and across the Valley. The IWW can help us learn effective organizing techniques and we can build a structure based on the relationships we have at our different companies and sites.
If you are new to this, try getting out of your comfort zone a little and make conversation with workers around you, even if they are paid by someone else. Griping and complaining about work is something we all love to do, and it will help bring us closer together and closer to our goals.
Do you work for one of these semiconductor companies? If so, contact the Phoenix IWW – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amkor Technology, Arm, ASM, ASML, Broadcom, Cirrus Logic, Compound Photonics, Daifuku, Edwards Vacuum, Entrepix, Everspin Technologies, FlipChip International, Hitachi High Technologies, Integrated Device Technology, Infineon, Intel Corporation, KLA-Tencor, L3Harris Technologies, Marvell Technologies, Microchip Technology, NXP Semiconductors, ON Semiconductor, Qualcomm, Retronix Semiconductor, SUMCO, Sumitomo Chemical, TSMC