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Photo courtesy of LaborNet

The 25th annual LaborFest, established in 1994 to institutionalise the history and culture of working people in an annual labour cultural, film and arts festival, is taking place 1-31 July in San Francisco, USA. The theme of this year's event is “Surviving the Billionaire Robot Assault in the 21st Century”, and APC member organisation LaborNet is linking up the use of technology and communication from Silicon Valley to San Francisco and how this is affecting working people as part of LaborFest 2018.

The radical transformation of work in the gig economy and what this means to drivers, hotel workers, immigrants and housing rights will be discussed in the forums and educational meetings that we will be hosting,” LaborNet's Steve Zeltzer told APCNews.

The importance of learning how technology and communication intersect with social and living conditions, including privacy, for the 12 million people living in the Bay Area will also be exposed. “The Bay Area has become the centre of tech in the world and the reality of this will be illuminated. We will also look at how these tools can be linked up with tech workers throughout the world who also face the exact same concerns,” he added.

LaborNet is sponsoring or co-sponsoring these forums:

Workers Rights, Workers Lives, Organizing in Silicon Valley

8 July @ 10:00 am-4:00 pm

Millions of workers have come to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley to work and live. The conference will hear from workers who are fighting for union and worker rights in Silicon Valley, from service workers to tech workers. While billionaires are being made every year in Silicon Valley, the workers who make their money are facing extreme economic hardship, struggling to survive. The unionization of thousands of contract workers at companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook has raised their living conditions but the massive housing crisis and inability for workers to live in Silicon Valley forces workers into their cars, spending hours commuting on the road. At the same time, the racist attack on immigrant workers, including in Silicon Valley, is harming not just service workers but immigrants from throughout the world who now work in the Valley. Discrimination against their wives and families is escalating as xenophobia grows. We will hear as well about how tech workers are working with service workers to defend union and immigrant rights, and joining in solidarity.

Taxi Workers and the Streets of San Francisco

11 July @ 7:00 pm

The deregulation of taxi workers began in San Francisco during the 1970s. It has escalated with the introduction of tech platforms for Uber and Lyft, which have allowed the massive introduction of drivers, pitting workers against workers for the profits of the billionaires who own these platforms. It has also led to massive gridlock and environmental problems while seriously impacting public transit, which now must be subsidized by the public. This forum, sponsored by the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance, will examine these issues and what transit workers and the public can do about it.

Airbnb and Effects on the Workers, Tenants, Neighborhoods

16 July @ 7:00 pm

Airbnb has had a profound effect not just in San Francisco but around the world. For cities, it has turned neighborhoods into hotel districts. One example of the role of Airbnb is in North Beach, where the elderly have been evicted to move tourists in. It has also threatened local businesses that make San Francisco the special place it is. This forum will look at how working people, communities, and the city have been transformed by this new technology platform. Speakers will include unionists, tenants and environmentalists.

The Gig Economy, Privacy, Automation and AI

17 July @ 7:00 pm

San Francisco Bay Area is ground zero for the world tech transformation from platforms like Uber and Lyft to social media networks like Facebook and search engines like Google. The collection of big data without privacy rights, or the introduction of automation by Tesla and AI without any real controls and regulations, is not only injuring workers but also threatens public rights as our emotions and every private move are captured for profit. The “gig” worker in our automated economy is becoming the majority of workers in the United States and every other developed country. The impact of algorithmic and data-driven management of human workers is happening today at a mind numbing speed, and this panel will look at these technologies and their impact on workers and our society.

Uber, Lyft, Public Transit and the App Nightmare

27 July @ 7:00 pm

Thousands of drivers now come into San Francisco and other cities on the coast to drive for Uber and Lyft. These workers are forced to leave their homes because they cannot make enough where they live. The technology is now being used to further the exploitation of the drivers. This has led to gridlock, environmental problems, the destruction of the regulated cab industry, and deadly conditions for these drivers as well. Some have committed suicide because they are tied to car loans and low income. They are also fighting for rights on the job against the “gig” economy conditions that have been imposed on them.

For more information about LaborFest, click here.


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