To Kara Swisher, Peter Kafka, and the Organizers of the Code Conference:
Before Harvey Weinstein became the symbol of sexual harassment, Susan Fowler “detailed the sexism and harassment she faced at” Uber. “To paraphrase Uber SVP Frances Frei: As more and more people speak out about harassment in tech, the industry has a chance to capitalize on that openness. Whether it has the willpower to follow through remains an open question,” wrote Eric Johnson for Recode. As workers in the tech industry, we could not agree more! Consequently, it is disappointing to see that Recode, Vox Media’s tech business news site, is holding its Code Conference at the Terranea Resort.
A dishwasher who formerly worked for a temporary agency at the resort, Sandra Pezqueda, was named one of Time’ People of the Year for 2017 as a “silence breaker.” After she reported sexual harassment by a supervisor, Sandra was fired. She is currently suing the Terranea and the staffing agency that employed her alleging violations of her civil rights. A court trial is scheduled for June.
What kind of message does it send to the tech community if our bosses and coworkers spend several days and thousands of dollars to wine and dine and celebrate themselves at the Terranea Resort while these allegations remain outstanding? Is it enough to challenge patriarchy and racism in our industry, but not support the people challenging these structures who clean our hotel rooms, wash our dishes, or cook our food?
For too long, workers fighting for dignity at work have quietly taken their employers to court or to the government, seeking restitution which sometimes demanded their own silence. The explosion of attention to Tarana Burke’s #MeToo hashtag has shown the potentially transformative power of solidarity. It is time for us in the tech industry to use our power and privilege to support those struggling for respect on the job and oppose bad bosses with all the means at our disposal. Now, Recode and tech workers must stand with Sandra and Terranea workers and cease business at the Terranea until Sandra’s claims are addressed.
Moving the Code Conference from the Terranea may seem challenging, but it must be done. We know that companies often care more about their customers and their bottom line than their employees. Already, AOL/Oath moved its MAKERS Conference out of the Terranea under public pressure. Will Vox Media and Recode follow their lead and stand with Sandra?
The Tech Workers Coalition