The impact of constant surveillance in the workplace
When surveillance increases, low-wage workers and Black and brown communities suffer.
In today’s growing gig economy, workers have less rights and more restrictions. On top of that, companies are increasingly using technology to watch their workers’ every move, managing them by apps or even monitoring bathroom break. In addition, studies show that when surveillance increases, low-wage workers and Black and brown communities are disproportionally impacted and targeted.
Coworker.org recognizes the impact of surveillance in the workplace and we want to learn more about how workers are experiencing the effects of this type of technology. Will you help us uncover and stop these practices? Click here to take our short survey.
You’ve probably heard or asked yourself:
“But…if I’m not doing anything wrong, why should I care? I have nothing to hide.”
Yea, that’s how most people feel. We “accept” terms and conditions that we’ve never read, with many platforms and apps including surveillance capabilities that users are not fully aware of. From facial recognition, scroll or click-tracking and gps-monitoring to apps that automatically enable the camera and microphone on our devices, this lack of privacy has slowly seeped into our culture as a consequence of the digital age, and it’s harming the most vulnerable communities and workers.
Here are some examples of how workers experience the consequences of increased technological surveillance:
Recently, a UPS driver, after being spotted on Amazon’s Ring Video Doorbell, had the police called on him and an arrest warrant issued for retrieving a package a little earlier than expected.
For Amazon’s warehouse workers, they’re aggressively tracked by wristbands that know exactly where they are at all times, how fast they’re working, and will even vibrate to move them in a different direction.
During the historic West Virginia Teachers Strike in 2018, state legislators proposed to update the public worker health plan to require teachers to download a Fitbit or another mobile fitness app or be penalized. It would track their steps, heart rate and other health metrics, coming with a $500 fine for those who refused or failed to earn enough health points from the app.
As the national conversation around technology and surveillance ramps up, we believe it’s important to uplift the story and experience of workers in this discussion. This type of surveillance and control in the workplace is an authoritarian dream come true. We can’t be silent while everyday workers are being impacted. Will you take the 5 minute survey and tell us about your experience with surveillance?
Coworker.org is a global platform to advance change in the workplace. Our technology makes it easy for individuals or groups of employees to launch, join and win campaigns to improve their jobs and workplaces. You can start your own campaign about changes you want to see in your workplace on Coworker.org here — or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss a workplace issue with our team.