What is Collective Action in Tech
Collective Action in Tech is a publicly accessible archive that aims to comprehensively document collective actions by tech workers from the 1970s to present-day. Over the past two years, this project has grown from an individual archive to a network connecting activists, artists, and scholars from all over the world. It has served as a tactical resource for tech workers, a data source for labor journalists, and, increasingly, a means of remembering the tech workers movement.
How can I contribute?
Fill out this form if you wish to add an event.
Can I use this data?
Yes. However, please remember to credit us.
> Journalist: Please include a link to the repository (collectiveactions.tech) in your article if this data has informed your work.
> Academics: Please include a citation to the repository if you have used this data in your project. JS Tan and Nataliya Nedzhvetskaya. (2020). Collective Action In Tech. https://github.com/collective-action/tech
Why did you start Collective Action in Tech?
Currently, the majority of tech workers are not-unionized and have been protesting in unconventional ways (such as open letters, or using platforms like GitHub to show solidarity). As a result, these actions are not captured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics or other labor organizations.
That is why we started Collective Action in Tech — as a resource for current tech workers to learn from past actions. Gathering all related events in one place allows us to recognize individual actions within the context of a greater collective movement.
How complete is the data?
We recognize that it is impossible to document all collective action in the tech industry. One criteria for documentation is that there must be documentation of an action on a blog or publication.
Even still, our dataset only represents a subset of the number of total collective actions in tech. However, we believe that our data for US-based actions after 2006 is fairly comprehensive. Because we primarily work in English, our data on english-speaking countries is more complete. As such, we believe there are many collective tech actions from other countries that are not captured in this dataset.
Our goal is to make this dataset as comprehensive as possible. If you notice that an action is missing, please reach out or directly contribute here.
While tech worker activism seems to be a relatively new phenomenon, this database shows that tech workers have been organizing for much longer. Where does this perception come from?
This can be explained by the fact that we're only recently seeing large-scale activism from engineers, designers, data scientists—specifically those who work at some of the biggest and most visible tech companies in the world. Given the perks and the high-wages, these are some of the most privileged workers in our society. That's why it's big news when this group of workers employ the tactics of labor organizing. It shows that even the most privileged workers in our society—those who the economy is designed to work for—are not content.
This is also why there is a mis-representation of the anatomy of the tech lash—which is that it is primarily driven by this privileged group of workers. But what our data shows is that tech workers have actually been organizing for many years.
It’s crucial for directly employed engineers, designers, data scientists (and all other relatively privileged tech workers) to recognize that, despite the amount of attention they get in the media, this movement isn't just theirs. Instead, they share a history of organizing that comes from blue-collar, contracted, and generally less privileged workers.
This is one thing that we found to be really important when we initially designed our database and were thinking through the definition of a 'tech worker'. In this sense, our archive is meant to challenge what we're hearing in the mainstream: that the definition of a tech worker should not only include software engineers, product designers, and other high-income workers, but also gig workers, contract workers, building staffers, and all workers in the industry.