As Trump Meets Tech CEOs, “Silicon Valley Rising” Calls For Resistance

Dave Johnson

“Millions of families — undocumented workers, union members, women, Muslim Americans, low-wage workers who could lose healthcare or affordable housing — are living in fear of what comes next. ” – Silicon Valley Rising

Silicon Valley Rising is a coalition of community, faith-based and labor organizations that represent tech’s service workers. The coalition warns that “Trump’s policies present a dire threat to the lives and well-being of workers and contractors across the tech sector … be they immigrants, women, workers or Muslim Americans,” and are calling on tech companies “to play a leadership role in resisting unjust policies if they are put forward by the Trump Administration.”

Tech Oligarchs Meet Trump

Tech CEOs (a.k.a billionaires and a few lowly multimillionaires) (a.k.a “oligarchs”) met with President-Elect Donald Trump (billionaire, oligarch) Wednesday as tech’s workers called on them to “take a stand and resist threats to the rights of workers, consumers and the communities they live in.”

Only heads of the largest companies were invited. Heads of startups and smaller tech companies were also not present. As the NY Times reported,

“This is a truly amazing group of people,” Mr. Trump said. “I won’t tell you the hundreds of calls we’ve had asking to come to this meeting.” Everyone laughed.

… Shortly after that, the press was ushered out of the room. It wasn’t immediately clear what unfolded after that.

However Twitter was cut from the meeting in retribution for the company refusing to create a “#CrookedHillary” emoji for the Trump campaign.

Oligarchs Want To Pocket Taxes They Owe

The tech oligarchs want deals to let them off the hook for taxes they owe on profits they have stashed in offshore tax havens. Companies have around $2.5 trillion of profits, on which they owe more than $700 billion in taxes. (See the Monday NYT op-ed Corporate Welfare Won’t Create Jobs.) Technology corporations have 29% of all untaxed offshore profits.

Will We the People get that $700 billion, or will Trump let them pocket it for themselves?

Oligarchs Likely Did Not Talk About Workers, Climate Change

While Silicon Valley Rising had asked the tech oligarchs to discuss “threats to the rights of workers, consumers and the communities they live in” other tech voices had also been speaking out about other Trump threats. From the NY Times report:

In the days and hours before the meeting, various factions made their positions clear. A group of engineers and other tech workers issued a statement asserting they would refuse to participate in the creation of databases that could be used by the government to target people based on their race, religion or national origin.

… Another group of entrepreneurs assembled virtually this week with the same goal of preventing any erosion of civil liberties. They also accepted “a responsibility to partner with communities where the effects of rapidly changing technologies have hurt our fellow Americans.” …

There is no indication whether any of these issues of concern were discussed. According to a Guardian report on the meeting, Trump did promise to make it easier to sell their products across borders:

The president-elect told the assembled CEOs that he would eliminate restrictions on international trade, a statement at odds with his hard stance against the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during his campaign.

Climate change is another area of importance for tech companies, like Tesla, maker of electric cars and batteries. It is not clear if this was discussed with Trump, who says climate change is a “hoax.”

The Full Silicon Valley Rising Statement

Silicon Valley Rising issued this statement:

We believe President-Elect Trump’s campaign commitments to deport millions of people, ban Muslims from entering the country and create a registry of Muslim Americans stand in stark contrast with the values many tech companies and industry leaders purport to uphold while also directly threatening workers within the sector.

President-Elect Trump’s policies present a dire threat to the lives and well-being of workers and contractors across the tech sector whose hard work day in and day out makes the success of these industries possible, and to millions of their customers  —  be they immigrants, women, workers or Muslim Americans.

Now is the time for the tech industry to step up as leaders, speak truth to power and live out the values of freedom, inclusion and opportunity. In doing so, the industry has an opportunity to be a beacon of hope for millions of Americans fearful of what comes next, and a model for how companies can begin to address the greatest economic challenges facing working families.

As leaders of community and faith-based organizations and labor unions who represent workers in the tech sector across Silicon Valley, we urge companies attending Wednesday’s meeting to play a leadership role in resisting unjust policies if they are put forward by the Trump Administration. Specifically, we call on companies to refuse to cooperate in the development of any registry monitoring Muslim Americans, sharing user and employee information or otherwise collaborate with law enforcement agencies to investigate violations of federal immigration law.

Since 2014, our Coalition has been working to encourage the largest companies in the tech sector to build an economy that works for everyone. We believe now more than ever is the time for technology companies to take actions to improve the economic prospects for workers in their operations including adopting responsible contractor standards to raise wages, improve conditions and support workers’ voices in their supply chains.

The solutions that address economic inequality in the tech sector are not going to come from the Trump Administration delivering tax cuts or slashing regulation for the industry. Instead, tech companies can begin to address these issues by leveraging the enormous power of their companies, their platforms and their supply chains to raise wages and job standards for their workers and contractors, positioning the tech sector as an example for industries across the economy.

Millions of families — undocumented workers, union members, women, Muslim Americans, low-wage workers who could lose healthcare or affordable housing — are living in fear of what comes next. At a time when racism, bigotry and economic hardship are driving our politics, it’s time for leaders in the tech sector to stand up for our communities and use their immense power and resources for good.

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