The most remarkable aspect of the walkout at Google last week may not have been that an estimated 20,000 people participated or that it had global reach, or even that it came together in less than a week. It was the way the organizers identified their action with a broader worker struggle, using language almost unheard-of among affluent tech employees.
上周谷歌员工罢工最引人瞩目的方面可能不是约两万的参加人数,也不是它的全球影响力,甚至不是它在不到一周的时间内就组织在一起。最引人瞩目的是,组织者将他们的行动与更广泛的工人斗争关联起来,他们使用的语言,是富裕的科技员工之前闻所未闻的。
“This is part of a growing movement,” the organizers wrote in a news release, “not just in tech, but across the country, including teachers, fast-food workers and others who are using their strength in numbers to make real change.”
“这是一个不断发展的运动的一部分,”组织者在新闻稿中写道,“不仅是在科技领域,而是在全国各地,包括教师、快餐工作者和其他正在用自己的力量做出真正改变的人。”
At the beginning of their protest near the company’s San Francisco offices, the organizers even expressed support for Marriott workers on strike in the city.
抗议在公司旧金山办事处附近开始时,组织者甚至表达了对在该市罢工的万豪国际(Marriott)工人的支持。
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For decades, Silicon Valley has been ground zero for a vaguely utopian form of individualism — the idea that a single engineer with a laptop and an internet connection could change the world, or at least a long-established industry. Class-consciousness was passé. Unions were the enemy of innovation, an anchor to the status quo.
几十年来,硅谷一直是某种个人主义的模糊乌托邦的起点——一个拥有笔记本电脑和互联网连接的工程师可以改变世界,或者至少能改变一个历史悠久的行业。阶级意识已经过时了。工会是创新的敌人,是现状的支柱。
But the issues that contributed to the walkout at Google — the company’s controversial work with the Pentagon on artificial intelligence, its apparent willingness to build a censored search engine for China, and above all its handling of sexual harassment accusations against senior managers — proved too large for any worker to confront alone, even if that worker made mid-six figures. They required a form of solidarity that would be recognizable to the most militant 20th century labor organizers.
但导致谷歌罢工的问题——该公司与五角大楼合作在人工智能方面进行的争议性工作;为中国建立一个审查版搜索引擎的明显意愿;最重要的是公司对高级管理人员性骚扰指控的处理——证明它们太大了,任何工人都无法独自面对,即使这个工人拥有六位数的收入。他们需要一种团结一致的形式,它可以在20世纪最激进的劳工组织者身上看到。
“The myth of Silicon Valley is that all the power you need is embodied in you as an individual — if you want more money, go somewhere else,” said Harley Shaiken, a labor expert at the University of California, Berkeley. “What they were saying here was that all the economic power they had as individuals wasn’t enough.”
“硅谷的神话是,你需要的所有权力都体现在你个人身上——如果你想要更多钱,就去其他地方,”加州大学伯克利分校的劳工专家哈莉·谢肯(Harley Shaiken)说。“而他们在这里说的是,作为个人,他们拥有的所有经济权力都是不够的。”
And the consequences of that dawning realization, Shaiken and other labor experts said, could reverberate across the entire tech sector.
谢肯和其他劳工专家表示,这一觉醒的后果可能会影响到整个科技行业。
Tech executives have long maintained that unions are inefficient — Intel co-founder Robert Noyce once described unions as an existential threat — and that skilled tech workers don’t need formal protections because employers can’t afford to alienate them. Many tech companies also promote themselves as inherently pro-worker because they are less hierarchical, and more democratically run, than old-economy businesses.
科技行业的高管长期坚持认为工会效率低下——英特尔联合创始人罗伯特·诺伊斯(Robert Noyce)曾将工会描述为生死攸关的威胁——娴熟的技术工人不需要正式保护,因为雇主离不开他们。许多科技公司也宣传自己天生亲近员工,因为他们比旧经济企业更少等级制度,运作时更民主。
Google, for example, points to countless ways for workers to communicate with senior executives: Employees can raise a concern with the chief executive at a TGIF meeting that happens a few times each month. They can ask questions on an internal company platform before meetings, and management will respond to the ones that receive the most “up-votes.” Workers can even circulate petitions, and those that prove especially popular can earn their authors a sit-down with management.
例如,谷歌指出,它的工人与高级管理人员有无数沟通方式:员工可以在每月举行几次的TGIF(意为“感谢上帝,到周五了”。——译注)会议上向首席执行官发问。在会议之前,他们还在内部公司平台上提问,管理层将对那些获得最多“支持票”的问题做出回应。工人之间甚至可以传阅请愿书,那些被证明特别受欢迎的请愿的作者可以同管理层进行交流。
谷歌罢工的组织者向旧金山万豪酒店罢工的员工表示支持。
谷歌罢工的组织者向旧金山万豪酒店罢工的员工表示支持。 Ben Margot/Associated Press
Underlying the back-and-forth is the belief that truth bubbles up from an unregulated exchange of ideas. But some employees complain that it rarely leads to lasting change.
这种反复交流的基础是一种信念,即真理会从不受管制的思想交流中涌现出来。但是一些员工抱怨它很少能带来持久的变化。
“As far as mechanisms for expressing feelings, there are plenty of them,” said Meredith Whittaker, a 12-year Google veteran who oversees a research group at the company and helped organize the walkout. “But as far as opportunities for agency and power — for real power over decision-making — some of what you’re seeing is a recognition that the former doesn’t equal the latter.”
“说到表达情感的机制,这里有很多,”梅雷迪斯·韦特克(Meredith Whittaker)说,她是一位12年的谷歌资深员工,负责监督公司的一个研究小组,是这次罢工的组织者之一。“但就代理和权力——在决策上的真正权力——的机会而言,你看到的一些事情在告诉你,两者是不平等的。”
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When The New York Times reported in late October that Google had given a high-ranking official a $90 million payout as he left the company after allegations of sexual harassment, organizers said, it ignited these simmering frustrations.
《纽约时报》于10月底报道称,谷歌在一名高管因性骚扰指控离开公司时,给了他一笔9000万美元的赔付金,组织者说,这点燃了人们心中酝酿的失望情绪。
The question is how far this sense of individual powerlessness has spread within Google. The walkout organizers argue that the feeling is quite widespread — extending from software developers to hardware engineers and from employees to contractors.
问题是这种个人的无力感能在谷歌中传播多远。罢工组织者认为这种感觉非常普遍——从软件开发人员到硬件工程师,从员工到承包商。
Some observers agree. Michelle Miller, co-founder of CoWorker.org, which educates workers in tech and other industries on how to assert their labor rights, said that employees at Google “had to start thinking of themselves as some kind of collective” last year after a memo by an employee asserted that women tend to be innately less capable of certain technical work.
一些观察者同意这一点。对科技和其他行业员工进行维护劳工权益教育的网站CoWorker.org的联合创始人米歇尔·米勒(Michelle Miller)表示,在去年一名员工发布备忘录声称女性天生就缺乏某些技术工作的能力后,谷歌员工就“不得不开始将自己视为某种集体”。
She said workers who criticized the memo and defended diversity efforts on internal forums were threatened by people sympathetic to the memo’s author, James Damore, and had to band together to defend one another.
她说那些批评这份备忘录并在内部论坛上为多元化努力辩护的工作人员,受到了那些同情备忘录作者詹姆斯·达莫尔(James Damore)的人的威胁,并且不得不联合起来互相争辩。
Since Damore’s ouster, Google workers have steadily received evidence that management will only heed collective action, Michelle Miller argued. That includes an ad hoc worker revolt that preceded the end of the company’s controversial Pentagon contract.
米歇尔·米勒认为,自达莫尔被开除后,谷歌员工已经确信管理层只会留意集体行动。这包括在该公司有争议的五角大楼合同结束之前发生的临时工人抗议。
Google may have been uniquely vulnerable to a worker uprising given its ostensibly progressive values, including the company’s longtime exhortation, “Don’t be evil,” and the openness of its corporate systems. Organizers note that they executed the entire walkout using Google’s internal platforms and other company resources.
考虑到其表面上的进步价值观,包括该公司一直以来秉守的“不作恶”箴言,以及公司系统的开放性,谷歌可能特别容易受到员工反抗的影响。组织者提到他们使用谷歌内部平台和其他公司资源实行了整个罢工。
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They say they’re confident that the protests will only escalate if the chief executive, Sundar Pichai, and his team don’t put forth a plan to act on some of their demands, among them a worker representative on the board of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and an end to employment contracts that prevent class-action lawsuits and require individual arbitration for discrimination and harassment cases.
他们表示,如果首席执行官桑达尔·皮查伊(Sundar Pichai)和他的团队没有给出计划对他们的一些诉求采取行动,他们相信抗议只会升级。这些诉求包括在谷歌母公司Alphabet董事会中设置一名员工代表,以及终止那些阻止集体诉讼并要求对歧视和骚扰案件进行个人仲裁的雇佣合同。
“Employees have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes going forward,” Pichai said in a statement. “We are taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action.”
“员工已就如何改进我们的政策和未来的进程提出了建设性意见,”皮查伊在一份声明中说。“我们正在吸纳他们的所有反馈,以便我们能够将这些想法变为行动。”
Labor experts said any changes precipitated by the walkout could spread through Silicon Valley.
劳工专家表示,罢工引发的任何变化都可能在硅谷蔓延。
梅雷迪斯·韦特克(Meredith Whittaker)(图中使用扩音器者)参与了上周谷歌罢工的组织工作。她说,公司为员工提供了很多表达意见的方法,但员工对公司决策的影响力太小。
梅雷迪斯·韦特克(Meredith Whittaker)(图中使用扩音器者)参与了上周谷歌罢工的组织工作。她说,公司为员工提供了很多表达意见的方法,但员工对公司决策的影响力太小。 John Taggart for The New York Times
“These companies are competing for employees,” said Matthew Bodie, a law professor at St. Louis University who is a former lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board.
“这些公司正在为员工竞争,”圣路易斯大学(St. Louis University)法学教授马修·博迪(Matthew Bodie)说,他是全国劳动关系委员会(National Labor Relations Board)的前律师。
“If employees at Facebook are looking at this and saying ‘Wow, that was impressive,'” Bodie said, then Facebook may have to follow suit.
“如果Facebook的员工正在关注这件事,并说‘哇,这真是令人钦佩’,”博迪说,那么Facebook可能不得不效仿。