News & Commentary

September 16, 2018

Martin Drake

Martin Drake is a student at Harvard Law School.

Andre Spicer argued in the Guardian this week that Amazon subjects its workers to “one of the most all-pervasive control systems in history.”  The charge comes on the heels of news that Amazon holds a patent for worker cages on wheels.  While the company dropped its plans for worker-cages, Spicer wrote that that company constantly tracks workers’ movements with hand-held computers and cameras, and that workers are held to unrealistic standards.  Among other things, Spicer highlighted stories of Amazon workers who were urinating in bottles in order to hit their targets, and delivery drivers suing the company for hours of unpaid overtime.

At least seven Google employees are resigning over the company’s complicity in online censorship perpetrated by the Chinese government, CNET reports.  The resignations come after the Intercept revealed that the internet giant is developing a Chinese search app, code-named Dragonfly, that was designed to remove content that China’s authoritarian government views as sensitive, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest. Last month, hundreds of Google employees signed a petition calling for transparency at the company and a say in company decision making.  Most recently, the Intercept revealed that Dragonfly would link users’ searches to their personal phone numbers, making it easier for the Chinese government to connect queries directly to individual users.

138 Somali-American workers have secured a $1.6 million settlement in a civil rights dispute over taking prayer breaks at work, the Denver Post reports.  The complaints were filed in 2015, when the workers walked off the job and were subsequently fired after being denied prayer breaks.  Cargill Meat Solutions will pay $1.5 million and the Teamsters Local Union No. 455 will pay $153,000 in the dispute.  Each worker will receive about $12,000 in the settlement.

Turkish police have detained hundreds of protesting workers over labor conditions at Istanbul’s new airport, Reuters reports.  The airport is a massive project due to open next month, and is one of the showcase projects of a 15-year construction boom under President Erdogan.  The current protests were sparked by a shuttle bus accident that injured 17 workers, but unions have long cited safety issues and poor working conditions at the jobsite.  Estimates say the government detained between 400 and 500 workers for their protests.

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