News Release

Date: Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Contact: Karen Rouse, CITP Communications Manager, 609.258.2277

The full report is here. For interviews, contact researchers Sayash Kapoor or Mona Wang:

  • Sayash Kapoor: 929.842.2708,
  • Mona Wang: 415.323.8807,

A spike in remote work and the resurgence of workplace organizing has led to labor organizers in tech spaces facing employer retaliation and emotional burnout, Princeton researchers found in new study

Sayash Kapoor and Mona Wang, researchers at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, say the pandemic has dramatically altered employee interactions, with most workers now communicating with each other online – creating greater opportunities for managers to monitor unionizing activities.

 

This heightened surveillance and increase in organizing efforts in tech spaces mark two pivotal shifts driving the retaliation labor organizers say they’re experiencing on the job – from the threat of termination or poor performance evaluations, to hostilities from peers.

 

“… it doesn’t feel good to know that your co-workers are in a Slack you’re not in, talking shit about you,” one interviewee said.

Another told researchers they feared being “written off as [an activist] person … the crazy liberal… my co-workers ‘muting me.’”

They – and fellow researchers Mattew Sun, Klaudia Jaźwińska and Elizabeth Anne Watkins – interviewed 29 workers to investigate the privacy practices of labor organizers at tech firms.

The Center for Information Technology (CITP) is a non-profit, non-partisan hub where academics from multiple disciplines research the impacts of digital technologies on society, with the mission of informing tech policy, policy-makers, journalists and the greater community. CITP researchers have expertise in artificial intelligence, dark patterns, machine learning, information security, algorithmic ethics and decision-making, misinformation and disinformation, facial recognition, cryptocurrencies and blockchain, internet policy, networking, broadband, password protection, recommender systems, and privacy and fairness.

CITP, based in Sherrerd Hall at Princeton University, operates several programs, including a Technology and Society certificate for Princeton undergraduates, a Tech Policy Clinic, a Public Interest Technology Summer Fellowship for students at universities across the country, and an Emerging Scholars in Technology program designed to provide training and real-life work experience for professionals interested in careers in public interest technology.