April 19, 2022
Illustration: Getty Images Plus; Protocol
Good morning! Tech companies have been largely immune to unionization efforts in the last few decades, but recent worker-led movements within Amazon and Apple prove that may no longer be the case. What’s next? Tech leaders can look to Starbucks for clues. I’m Anna Kramer and this weekend I dyed eggs with onion skins. It was the most fun I’ve had in weeks.
The wave of unionization sweeping Starbucks stores across the country — more than 20 so far, with potentially hundreds more in process — might not seem all that pressing to tech execs, but company leaders should be paying extremely close attention. Those Starbucks unions are proving to be powerful inspiration for the workforces that power tech companies, from Amazon warehouse workers to Apple store retail employees, and even the makers and sellers on Etsy.
Apple retail workers are officially trying to form a union, a first for the company, in a move that takes a page from the Starbucks union playbook. A group of employees at the Grand Central Apple store in Manhattan, calling themselves the Fruit Stand Workers United, on Monday announced plans to organize a legally recognized union.
Etsy sellers have been on strike for the last week, spurred by the Starbucks union success. Tens of thousands of Etsy sellers signed a petition committing to close their online shops from April 11-18 in protest of Etsy’s decision to raise its transaction cut from 5% to 6.5%, a 30% increase and the first since July 2018, before the pandemic began.
And Amazon warehouse workers won a surprising union election victory. The JFK8 Staten Island warehouse voted earlier this month to form the company’s first official union, and some of the workers who voted for the union there cited the Starbucks success as inspiration. Now a second group of Amazon workers in another Staten Island facility is gearing up for a union election vote that will begin next week, and union organizers in New Jersey just got the green light to hold an election. Amazon is planning to challenge the first union victory and has reportedly stepped up efforts to chill union support in the second facility.
Whether the union momentum continues at Amazon’s other facilities — and elsewhere for tech workers like those at Apple’s retail stores — may hinge in part on the results of this second election next week, and the upcoming union votes at Starbucks stores across the country. It’s the first time in decades that there are more than enough movements at different private sector companies to actually affect the outcomes for each other, and Big Tech should pay close attention to the outcomes of these efforts.
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OGIM, AMIRITE? In case you’re not up with the internet slang, that means “Oh god, it’s Monday. Am I right?” (Yes, yes, we know it's Tuesday, WE.) The FBI compiled 83 pages of internet slang for some reason, which thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request is now available for everyone to laugh at. If you don’t want to comb through the whole document, we’ve selected a few favorites:
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