the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist
“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx
Feb 6, 2023
Tech companies have been laying off thousands of workers in recent months. According to Layoffs.fyi, a website that tracks layoffs, the tech industry has laid off nearly 250,000 employees in the 13 months since the beginning of 2022.
These companies are enormously profitable and an important source of wealth for the capitalist class. Alphabet, which owns Google, for example, laid off 12,000 workers so far, even though it just announced a yearly profit of 60 billion dollars for 2022—and that’s AFTER taxes! And it has been shoveling all that money directly to its richest stockholders by buying back its own shares to the tune of 150 billion dollars over the past five years.
Apple and Microsoft have been doing the same thing. Apple bought back 409 billion dollars of their own stock over the past five years, and Microsoft bought back 170 billion dollars!
These layoffs are an open attack on workers, who have begun organizing over many different issues.
At Google, for example, workers formed AWU, or Alphabet Workers Union (named after Google’s parent company Alphabet). They are demanding, among other things, that all workers, regardless of employment status, have the same benefits and that the company hold higher-ups accountable for retaliation, harassment, and discrimination against workers—in particular against female workers. At the Microsoft subsidiary ZeniMax, workers formed the first union ever to be recognized by the company.
Tech workers have also been vocal on political issues. Google workers protested, successfully, against a defense contract that the company dropped as a result. At Facebook and Twitter, workers spoke out against their companies’ allowing Donald Trump to stay on their platforms after January 6. At Microsoft and Amazon, workers demanded that their companies reduce carbon emissions.
No doubt, these huge layoffs are a way for tech bosses to crack the whip on a workforce that is increasingly defiant—a way to put fear in workers and increase the pressure on them.
But the workers have not been staying idle either. Laid-off workers have been using their ties, strengthened through their own organizing efforts, to remain in solidarity and to support each other. This is already a step forward, directed against companies’ permanent efforts to keep workers isolated and to turn them against each other.