Filed under: Capitalism, Critique, Labor, Northwest, Technology
You might be wondering what it’s like working for Facebook in their shiny new Seattle campus at 1101 Dexter Avenue in South Lake Union. Luckily we can tell you. It appears that working in this place is like being coddled by a cybernetic monkey doll that never runs out of frozen yogurt or espresso. Workers start at $120,000 a year (which breaks down to roughly $10,000 a month) while many others earn anywhere between $250,000 and $500,000 a year. A tech worker can take a short Uber ride from their Belltown or South Lake Union luxury apartment. If they decide to bike in, they can drop off their bike at the free repair shop downstairs and collect it, tuned up like new, at the end of the day. They can enjoy gourmet meals before, during, and after work, and if they get hungry at home, they can use the UberEats, Amazon Restaurants, or Postmates app to have a restaurant meal delivered to their door. Truly a blue collar establishment, if we may say so.
(Facebook Campus, Seattle)
Service workers in this campus make between $15.00 to $20.00 an hour. The vast majority of these workers cannot afford to live in Seattle, and must commute for hours each day from points as far as Everett and Tacoma. The reason for this disparity in wages is because the people who keep the Facebook social media platform functioning are inherently more important than the people who cook and serve their food, at least according to the laws of capitalism, which we all know make a lot of sense. Under these rules, a Facebook shareholder can make $10,000 an hour doing absolutely nothing but counting their chits. They are the best paid out of the whole bunch, that is except for people like COO Sheryl Sandberg (white-feminist par excellence), board member Peter Thiel (literal vampire and rabid Trump supporter), and its deranged ruler and master, Lord Zuckerberg.
Facebook contracts with Flagship Facility Services to provide food to the hundreds of hungry tech-workers eager to schlurp down the free food. About 70 cafeteria workers grease the wheels of social media by serving its minions food and cleaning up their mess. In addition to the janitors and facility staff provided by Flagship, an entirely different company is contracted by Facebook to keep the mini-fridges stocked with free food. Another company provides security, while another provides catering for events involving alcohol. The security workers have been organized in a SEUI Local 6 and make slightly more than the other facility workers. This same SEIU local is engaged in similar drive at Amazon which has has mixed success.
(Fire deck at Facebook Campus, Seattle)
The Seattle Facebook campus is built along a strip of new luxury apartments specifically built to draw in the thousands of tech-workers brought in by Amazon and its now sprawling campus. Facebook is currently expanding and will draw in hundreds more tech workers, as will Google when it expands into South Lake Union. Facebook and Google provide free food to their employees in a grand Utopian gesture that ensures none of them have any incentive to spend their money at local businesses (the major justification for bringing these companies in). While stingy Amazon doesn’t provide any free food to its employees, that hasn’t seemed to help the restaurants popping up to beg for crumbs. As The Stranger has reported, most of these businesses are failing and South Lake Union is a now officially a sterile bubble of wealth with no purpose other than to make shit tons of money in the lofty pursuit of even more money (to build neato space rockets for Bezos!). It seems Amazon employees prefer to go to their housing unit and order all of their food delivered through Amazon. It’s really turning into a company town!
(Amazon Biodome, Seattle)
It remains to be seen how much an AFL-CIO union will benefit the cafeteria workers, but it likely means higher wages and less bullying by management. Facebook allowed the union to form with minimal resistance and some contract negotiations will soon begin between the union and Lord Zuck. The recruitment drive at the Seattle Facebook campus was accompanied by similar drives in Silicon Valley. Salting is easy and fun if you and one or more of your friends are precarious workers with the means to be potentially fired in retaliation for your activities. One need not join any bloated organization.
There are a variety of locals (often affiliated with mega-unions) that are engaged in small fights like the one just described. We would recommend you start an IWW local in your workplace and begin to federate across your cities and regions. The point of these activities is not to fight for work as such, but to distribute what we have access to and keep asking for more. Capitalism makes no sense and destroying it is the right thing to do. Follow the black cat!