Today’s News & Commentary — June 25, 2018

Published June 25th, 2018 -  - 06.25.183


Microsoft employees are pressuring the company to cancel its $19.4 million contract with ICE and institute a policy against working with clients who violate international human rights law.  In an open letter to the company’s CEO, over 100 Microsoft employees wrote, “We are part of a growing movement, comprised of many across the industry, who recognize the grave responsibility that those creating powerful technology have to ensure what they build is used for good, and not for harm.”  In response, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that the company was not working with the Federal government on any projects to separate families. However, Microsoft did not respond to press inquiries about whether it has allowed ICE to use its facial recognition software; whether the company has developed artificial intelligence tools for the agency; or whether the company will continue its contract with ICE.  This Microsoft workers’ protest follows similar attempts by tech workers at Google and other companies to end their companies’ relationships with law enforcement and government security forces.

 

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival completed its 40-day launch period on Saturday with rallies at the US Capitol and across the country.  The Poor People’s Campaign, which brings together dozens of unions, faith groups, and community organizations, will now turn its attention to fighting poverty at the state level.

 

In anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, California lawmakers are implementing a number of reforms to protect public sector unions in this year’s budget bill. For instance, this bill requires public employers to negotiate with unions if they want to talk to workers about the choice of whether or not to join the union.  The bill would also require public employers to respect union preferences in dues-collection methods. These measures follow a California law, passed last year, that guarantees unions access to new-employee orientations for public sector works.

 

Following a two-day walkout this past spring, Colorado teachers’ unions are supporting a primary challenger to the Democratic frontrunner in the Governor’s race.  The frontrunner, Jared Polis, is an internet entrepreneur and charter school founder and advocate.  While Colorado politicians in both parties have long supported “education reform” efforts, more and more Colorado residents are wary of such efforts.  The teachers’ union’s preferred candidate, Cary Kennedy, was the only gubenatorial candidate to participate in the teachers’ #RedforEd walkout. She has advocated for raising teachers’ salaries, giving more resources to the state’s public school system, and moving away from a focus on standardized testing.  

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