Last week, workers at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse voted to unionize. This is a spectacular win for organized labor, but poses the question: Will Amazon’s tech workers follow suit? Until recently, this would be all but unimaginable because the word “union” directly assaults the self-image of Big Tech professionals. Unions are for coal miners, auto workers and warehouse pickers: Working-class people without four-year college degrees.
However, as Big Tech has struggled to diversify, its own patterns of exploitation and pay inequality have become increasingly difficult to ignore. Two weeks ago, a former Google employee filed a class-action lawsuit against the tech giant alleging a pattern of discrimination against its Black employees, including steering them toward lower-level roles, lower pay and scant opportunities for career advancement.