Dispatches

The latest on local issues, education on class struggle, chapter news, and actions.


Coding a Different Workplace

Featured image by the Seattle DSA design team.

An oft-repeated story, across industries and disciplines is this: a technical team is called upon to help co-workers improve a workflow, and the programmers learn the ins and outs of the workflows they are supposed to improve. They form relationships with fellow workers and push hard to build platforms that might even be enjoyable to use. But something’s not right; some workers are hesitant. They appreciate the new coats of paint, the speed gains and the lovingly crafted user interfaces painstakingly designed by the tech team. But still, they resist.

This resistance is perfectly natural, whether conscious or unconscious, because it highlights the power tech workers have. This power, unchecked, can directly impact entire sectors of workers. Our colleagues’ jobs and livelihoods are on the line, but is this ever addressed in our rigorous design phases?

This isn’t some complex economic theory — it’s just how capitalism works. A workflow is improved, there’s celebrations all around, and we all have more time to think about our respective fields and worry less about the fiddly details of some dreary corporate intranet that was replaced. But despite these productivity gains — these shiny coats of paint on existing workflow systems– workers continue to suffer. Our work allows them to do their work faster, but for what gain?

No matter how morally just your company leadership may seem via their large donations or woke press releases, workers’ suffering is a given byproduct. The wage disparity in particular is most obvious: how often is someone able to go home an hour earlier with the same pay because software shaved an hour off their day?

If you are one of the lucky few that get to craft something for the general public, this might not speak to you because you are in the 1 percent. No, not the 1 percent Senator Bernie Sanders and Occupy Wall Street talk about — it’s a different kind. For every “rockstar” application developer slinging apps, there are 100 rank and file programmers making sure the data flows smoothly, that legacy systems are connected, and that the lights remain on.

A tech solidarity movement would present tech workers with an opportunity to be leaders for a better world. We could use our collective power as the workers who keep large parts of infrastructure running as leverage to push our technology to be used for something other than perpetuating the upward flow of wealth to an elite few. When anyone with know-how and a laptop can build labor-saving technology, we must ask ourselves: what value do CEOs and founders provide? Do we even need them at all? How should our technology be used?

These are big questions but they are necessary. Left unanswered, enormous sums of wealth will continue to be made from our work with no benefit to anyone but those at the top.

So, what do we as programmers do? We need to put food on the table just as much as the next employee. Even if we are aware of the destructive nature of our work, surely we can’t just stop? If we flip the switches off, will someone be brought in to replace us? Luckily for us, we have decades of experience to draw from in the labor movement. We can organize, we can strike, we can fight to have our trade used to increase leisure time for humanity instead of increasing suffering and contributing to the inequality in the world.

These things may sound impossible, just as weekends and 40-hour work weeks may have seemed impossible over 100 years ago. As programmers, we have the skills to keep the information age alive, and as such, we should be leaders and exercise control over how the products of our labor are used..

As a tech worker myself, I doubt most of us entered the field to increase suffering in the world. Let’s stand alongside our fellow workers, organize, and put our skills to use building a better world today.


Building a center of resistance at the Seattle Socialism Conference

Featured image: Jon Grant, who is running for Seattle City Council Position 8, speaks to around 600 people in the University of Washington’s Kane Hall for the Seattle Socialism Conference, Sunday, April 2, 2017. Photo by Joanna Magner/Seattle DSA

By Ty and Cora Alexander

Socialism is experiencing a massive resurgence in America in the face of the Trump administration, and nowhere was that more obvious than at the Seattle Socialism Conference held Sunday, April 2 in the University of Washington’s Kane Hall.

Organized by the Seattle chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, Socialist Alternative and the International Socialist Organization (ISO), the conference brought together around 600 attendees to build solidarity between socialist groups, emphasize the key importance of workers in the fight for social and economic justice, and most important of all, discuss ways to fight back against the devastating policies and proposals put forth by the Trump administration.

Speakers included leaders from the socialist organizations as well as local Seattle activists and politicians. The centerpiece of the conference was a discussion between the editor of Jacobin magazine and Vice-Chair of the DSA Bhaskar Sunkara, Socialist Alternative National Secretary Philip Locker and the audience.

Watch the other featured speakers talk socialism in Seattle on our Youtube channel here.



Rolling Out Our Fundraiser For Abortion Access

 

Seattle DSA believes in complete reproductive freedom in all forms. We believe all people should have the power to make decisions about their lives and their bodies and deserve dignity, compassion and respect in doing so. We also believe cost should not be a barrier to this freedom.

In line with our platform, we are proud to participate in the annual abortion access Trivia-thon! This fundraiser supports the CAIR Project, a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Click here to donate to our team, the Wildcat Strikers. Our goal is to raise $1000 (but we’d love to beat it!). Donations accepted through April 23.

If you have questions contact team captain Ash at ash@seattledsa.org.


Join us for the Seattle Socialism Conference!

Save some time on Sunday, April 2nd for the Seattle Socialism Conference, co-hosted by the Seattle DSA, UW Young Democratic Socialists, Socialist Alternative and Socialist Students!

This is a great opportunity to learn more about socialism, meet other local socialists, and for SDSA to show solidarity with other socialist groups in Seattle.

Among the notable guests will be Bhaskar Sunkara (founding editor of Jacobin magazine and vice-chair of the DSA), Kshama Sawant (Socialist Alternative Seattle City Councilmember), Jon Grant (democratic socialist candidate for Seattle City Council), and Nikkita Oliver (Seattle Peoples Party candidate for Seattle mayor).

The event will take place in Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus. Doors will open at 10:30; we’ll wrap up around 2:30.

The suggested donation is $10-20, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Click here for the Facebook event and agenda. Nikkita Oliver’s mayoral campaign launch party follows shortly after the conference at Washington Hall.


‘We’re going to get this done:’ Councilmember Johnson pledges support for city income tax

Caption: District 4 representative Rob Johnson speaks to around 150 people at University Heights Center, Thursday, March 23 in support of a Seattle-specific income tax on wealthy households. Photo courtesy of the Seattle chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

President Trump unveiled his disastrous first budget blueprint last week, which included $54 billion in cuts to most all government agencies aside from Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs. Specific programs and agencies — many of which have had a measurably positive impact on communities across the country for decades — face debilitating cuts in funding, and include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Office of Violence Against Women.

While the fate of these programs and services is uncertain at a federal level, a coalition of citizens and activist groups is taking direct action to “Trump-proof” Seattle against devastating cuts by paving the way for a Seattle income tax.


Introducing Seattle DSA’s 2017 Candidate Survey

SDSA Candidate Survey

 

With two months to go before the deadline to file for candidacy for municipal office, Seattle already has a bevy of candidates lined up for three key races. Two at-large councilmembers as well as a mayor will be elected to four-year terms come election day, Nov. 7, 2017.

Challenging Mayor Ed Murray in the primary are activists Nikkita Oliver and Andres Salomon as well as Casey Carlisle, Mary Juanita Martin, Jason Roberts, Alex Tsimerman and Keith Whiteman. In the at-large Position 9 seat primary, incumbent Councilmember Lorena González faces Marguerite Richard and Eric Smiley. With the exit of Councilmember Tim Burgess from the at-large Position 8 seat, the field is wide open. Former Tenant’s Union head Jon Grant will face off against Washington State Labor Council policy director Teresa Mosqueda and King County NAACP vice president Sheley Secrest, as well as Ryan Asbert, Hisam Goueli, Jenn Huff, Mac McGregor, Rudy Pantoja, James Passey and Charlene Strong.


Dignity Shouldn’t Be A Luxury. Period.

    art by our own Eva Giselle!

 

We’re excited to announce that Seattle DSA has partnered with local women’s shelter & resource center Mary’s Place to host a feminine hygiene product drive! We launch this month-long drive on International Women’s Day in solidarity with women in need.

You may bring new, unopened items to any event hosted by Seattle DSA this month. Yep, we’re talking mainly about tampons/pads* but also deodorant, soap, shampoo/conditioner, even lip balm. A team will drop off donations at Mary’s Place after our general meeting on April 6th. For a full wish-list see http://www.marysplaceseattle.org/support-us/share-your-stuff/. We are happy to collect and deliver anything you bring.