Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Unpaid public holidays and no paid parental leave: Microsoft and Lionbridge are Scrooge like companies

ScroogeIn December 2012, Henry Blodget wrote a post in Business Insider about the Scrooge Award he gave to Corporate America. Three years later, as Xmas is coming, Microsoft and Lionbridge jointly deserve a Scrooge Award for not providing paid public holidays to all their employees. As we are not paid during those public holidays we suffer a loss of income that takes a big part of the fun out of this period as we worry about how we are going to compensate for this $ loss. Could it be possible that Microsoft does not know its trusted Lionbridge supplier does not pay for public holidays? It is doubtful as Microsoft directly profits by not paying either for those public holidays. Yes, some suppliers are more human and do pay those days to their workers (like WIPRO does). As we noted in the previous post, Microsoft should require all its suppliers to provide paid public holidays as this is clearly mentioned in article 7 (d) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: "Rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays ", and Microsoft claims it is committed to implement this Convention. We'll keep denouncing this Scrooge-like behavior until it changes. Of course in these times of celebrating a nativity we'll add to our outrage the lack of any paid parental leave. The Universal Declaration of HumanRights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also contain dispositions for pregnant moms. Article 25.2 of the UDHR states: "Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance". Article 10.2 of the Internal Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states: "Special protection should be accorded to mothers during a reasonable period before and after childbirth. During such period working mothers should be accorded paid leave or leave with adequate social security benefits." 50 years later, as this Convention was adopted in 1966, these benefits are still not required by Microsoft for all tis suppliers. Although this Convention was never ratified by the US Senate, Microsoft voluntarily committed itself to implement all its content (as far as it was relevant to its responsibilities as a multinational corporation) when they joined the UN Global Compact in ... 2006.  9 years later Microsoft is still not respecting its commitment to implement dispositions adopted 50 years ago and implemented routinely in most industrialized countries, including by Microsoft's subsidiaries operating in those countries. Lionbridge Technologies does not give a damn about the UN Global Compact but their subsidiaries in other countries also have to respect those dispositions. Only in the US...

Friday, December 11, 2015

How Microsoft does not implement its proclaimed commitment to respect all the human rights in the Universal Declaration and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

It's December 10 again, Human Rights Day again and this year Microsoft is still in violation of its commitment stated as follows:

"Since endorsing the UN Global Compact in 2006, Microsoft has had a formal commitment to respecting all of the human rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. "
This year's Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966. Let us look at article 7 (d) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: "Rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays "
 It is clear that paid leave should include periodic vacation AND the payment of the public holidays. When they announced their new requirement of 'at least 15 days of paid time off', Microsoft ignored the specific requirement by the UN texts that public holidays be paid, on top of the basic paid vacation. Requiring only 15 days of paid time off, without adding to this mandate the payment of the public holidays deprives full time supplier's employees of any payment when Microsoft closes its offices for ten public holidays during the year.
This distinction is clearly confirmed in the 1970 Convention on paid holidays: see article 3.3 and article 6.1
Ten unpaid public holidays represent millions of dollars that are not paid to thousands of Microsoft's suppliers employees, mostly employees that are paid the less. How long will it take for Microsoft to respect its commitment?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lionbridge attracts hedge fund billionaire Lee Cooperman

Cooperman's arrival in Lionbridge capital ($23 million, a 7% stake) apparently brought changes in the financial management with the departure of the CFO. Read the article in the Boston Business Journal of November 9. Cooperman worked for years at Goldman Sachs then created his own hedge fund, Omega Advisers whose performance has not been so great lately. He also accused President Obama of promoting class warfare in an open letter (November 28, 2011). While Lionbridge announced a $50 million share repurchase program, they could not find one cent to increase Tier1 pay, nor provide paid holidays or parental leave for people who have worked in the lab for years but are still misclassified as 'temporary' workers. As for the 15 days of PTO, they have constantly repeated it was only because Microsoft required it that they offered it. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

2015 Thanksgiving at Microsoft: the stinging bitterness of an unpaid holiday

I have been working full time as a tester/reviewer in the Windows App Certification Center since January 2012. Thanksgiving 2015 is coming. Microsoft gives two paid holidays to its ‘direct employees’ for Thanksgiving but we are employed via a supplier (Lionbridge Technologies) that does not offer any paid holiday.
In my case, this lack of paid holidays has saved Microsoft and Lionbridge a total of more than $7K during the last four years. Meanwhile my co-workers and I keep struggling from paycheck to paycheck and many are going to choose to come to the office the day after Thanksgiving not to lose another payday. Of course this Friday will not be paid overtime, just the regular $17 to $22 per hour, the same unchanged rates than 4 years ago.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Employees refuse Lionbridge Technologies minimal offer

25 Tier1s (on 40) voted. 20 voted NO and 5 voted YES.
There is a clear majority of Tier1s who refused Lionbridge minimal proposal. 
This vote sends a message to Lionbridge and Microsoft. They have to offer better conditions: significant raises after 3 + years of full time work without any raise with a bottom rate at $17 per hour, better benefits like paid holidays, paid parental leave, immediate accruing of paid time off taking in consideration the time already spent: immediate 15 days of PTO for people who have worked full time for more than a year. Microsoft and Lionbridge financial results are such they can easily provide better compensation and benefits.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Lionbridge final tentative agreement: why we dislike it

Go here to see Lionbridge Tentative Final Agreement. 
Why should Tier 1 employees dislike it to the point they could refuse to ratify it? Read below for our analysis.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Is Microsoft a joint employer? TWA files a charge with the National Labor Relations Board

Temporary Workers of America is a small independent union born on September 11, 2014 to represent 40 or so employees working for Microsoft via a supplier, Lionbridge Technologies. The union was created because of the accumulated frustration of years without any paid leave nor pay increase. 
On March 26, 2015 Microsoft announced it would require its suppliers to provide 'at least 15 days of paid time off' to their employees but nothing was set aside specifically for paid parental leave and no paid holidays were mentioned.
From the very start we thought the requirement was too weak and we were concerned about its implementation.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The trend toward 16 weeks of paid parental/family leave

To complement the previous post here is a link to an article published October 8 in the Washington Post by Jane Waldfogel of Columbia University: Why 16 week paid parental leave policies are revolutionary for US workers.

Could melinda Gates help us obtain paid parental leave and paid public holidays?

Parental Leave Isn't Just About Parents: Why It Makes a Difference to Our Kids' Health
Let's not forget what parental leave is really about: healthier babies, parents who are able to thrive professionally, and strong and resilient families.
By Melinda Gates
This post first appeared at Parents.com. We could not find the exact date and it apparently did not elicit any comment. It was then reproduced on August 21, on The Huffington Post (72 comments). We discovered it because it was referenced on October 7 by Emily Peck again in The Huffington Post in a post where she explained how Melinda Gates is taking her own advice as the Gates Foundation announced it was now offering to its employees up to one year of paid parental leave.
The question for us: is there any chance that Melinda can convince Microsoft to require that its supplier Lionbridge Technologies provide "some parental leave" instead of nothing. What does she think the parental/family leave standard should be for Microsoft's suppliers?

The news that Netflix and Microsoft will strengthen their parental leave policies was welcomed by parents across the country, including me. These announcements should put pressure on every company, in every industry, to design and implement similar policies, setting a new standard for family leave.
However, there's more to this story than we are seeing in the headlines. Yes, the new policies will help tech companies retain highly skilled employees in a competitive job market, and that's an important priority for Netflix, Microsoft, and companies like them. But let's not forget what parental leave is really about: healthier babies, parents who are able to thrive professionally, and strong and resilient families.
I saw only limited coverage--such as this article--that focused on how the new policies will help parents and babies. We can debate about how leave should be structured to maximize its impact, but what's not in question is that when mothers and fathers get paid leave, they benefit, and so do their children.
Paid leave has been linked to higher birth weights and lower rates of infant mortality. Mothers who get paid leave breastfeed more and for longer, which is one of the best ways to protect the health of a newborn. This is to say nothing of the long-term emotional health of both parents and children who are able to form a strong attachment from birth.
The benefits extend beyond newborn health: When fathers take leave, they participate more in early child rearing, and that level of engagement continues after the leave ends. The evidence also shows that mothers who take leave are more likely to get raises in the year following their leave--54 percent more likely.
Netflix and Microsoft made these changes because parental leave is a benefit their employees really want. Parents know intuitively that spending more time with each other and with their newborn is the best thing for their family.
I hope that we see more companies improve their parental leave policies. If that's how businesses start competing for the best employees, society will benefit greatly. When all Americans have the ability to stay home with their new babies without incurring financial hardships or professional disadvantages, our country will be healthier, happier, and more productive. It's a goal we should all be working towards, for the health of our children.
Melinda Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Microsoft: Stop paid leave discrimination

Sign this petition on coworker.org

Microsoft: Stop paid leave discrimination

To: Microsoft

Microsoft: Stop paid leave discrimination

Campaign created by Philippe Boucher

Extend paid holidays and paid parental leave policies to all Microsoft's supplier's employees.
Why is this important?
On March 26, Brad Smith, Microsoft Executive Vice President for Legal Affairs, announced that Microsoft would now require its suppliers to provide 'at least 15 days of paid time off' to their employees, as "paid time off matters".
On August 5, Kathleen Hogan, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, announced that Microsoft wanted to support its employees with benefits that matter the most to them: therefore Microsoft was adding two days to its present list of 8 paid holidays (MLK Day and President's Day) and extending its paid parental leave policy to 12 weeks. Unfortunately, those new benefits were not extended to the other half of Microsoft's workforce: the thousands of people who work full time for Microsoft via suppliers as many of the contractors don't provide any paid holidays nor any paid parental leave.
The direct, very negative consequences of this new policy will be a two day cut in pay, worth millions of dollars, for all the supplier's employees that are not being able to work on the two new unpaid holidays and the bitter confirmation that while Microsoft cares for its direct employees having parental leave they don't give a damn about the way their 2000 suppliers provide (or most often don't) any paid parental leave nor paid holidays. As the Department of Labor recently confirmed: the lack of paid leave disproportionally impacts low wage workers.
Were the savings made by Microsoft by adding two unpaid holidays planned to finance the new extended paid parental leave? Should the suppliers and their lowest paid workers take a pay cut to offset the cost of extended parental leave for the privileged better compensated employees?
While Brad Smith expressed in March a concern to reduce the inequality of treatment between employees, Kathleen Hogan's announcement is going in the exact opposite direction.
This shocking situation is made even more so by Microsoft's attempt to include Martin Luther King Jr within their corporate culture, as they finally add MLK Day to their list of paid holiday.
It took 30 years for Microsoft to recognize a holiday implemented as paid holiday since 1986 and the way it will work is going to penalize the lowest earners, the complete opposite of Martin Luther' King's vision!
At the end of her announcement, Kathleen Hogan writes: "We will continue to listen to employee feedback to establish benefits and build an overall employee experience that raises the bar in our industry, creates a more inclusive environment, and recognizes the importance of our people to the continued success of Microsoft."
Please sign this petition to let her know your concern about the lack of consideration Microsoft shows for all the people working via suppliers that are discriminated against and ask that Microsoft extend its new paid holidays and paid parental leave policies to all its suppliers employees, the other half of Microsoft

Friday, July 17, 2015

Lionbridge proposal at the July 17 collective bargaining meeting: 15 days of paid time off

Dear All,

As we expected from the Scrooge company that Lionbridge is, their paid time off proposal is the smallest possible to respect Microsoft's requirement: 15 days per year that can be used for any purpose. 

The eligibility would start once the contract with the union is signed and there is no retroactivity: one month after the signing you'll gain a bit more of one day of PTO. The people who have been there for years and the people who just arrived are treated the same. 
There is no extra paid time off for parental leave and the public holidays are taken out of the 15 bucket so that's already about half of the 15 days.
Lionbridge is therefore much less generous than WIPRO (for example). 
Microsoft has missed the opportunity to be really generous by adding the public holidays and a specific paid parental leave to the deal. 
They could still decide to do something if they get some bad feedback from the media comparing their meager offer to Facabook's ($4000 for each new baby).
It's also maintaining big inequalities among suppliers and with Microsoft's direct employees.
Let us know how you feel and if you want the union to sign asap or not.
Have a good week-end.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Memorial Day Should be a Paid Holiday for all the 40.000 Microsoft Temps

Memorial Day should be a paid holiday for all Microsoft temps. In a press release to be distributed to the media, Temporary Workers of America asks Microsoft to clarify its new paid leave requirement for supplier's employees and to speed up its implementation.

Image created pro bono by Lili'uolani Pickford for TWA, (c) TWA,  see more images

Temporary Workers of America (TWA) is a newly created union (September 2014) that represents people working full time for Microsoft's app certification lab via a contractor, Lionbridge Technologies. The union was formed because Lionbridge Technologies refused and still refuses to provide any paid leave to employees classified as temporary despite the fact they have been working full time for years.
There are 40 of us in the lab and at last count Microsoft had about 40.000 'temps' working via vendors. How many still don't get any paid leave?
Memorial Day is a paid holiday for Microsoft's 'direct' employees who enjoy eight such paid holidays, plus two paid 'personal days' and fifteen days of paid vacation. Lionbridge employees working alongside Microsoft's employees get nothing.
On March 26, Brad Smith announced a new Microsoft requirement for its suppliers: they would have to provide at least 15 days of paid leave. The announcement does not specify what suppliers should do about the 'public holidays'. Some, like WIPRO do like Microsoft: they offer paid legal holidays AND 15 days of paid leave.
TWA asks Microsoft to clarify their requirement and require its suppliers to offer the same number of paid public holidays as Microsoft AND 15 days of paid leave.
Microsoft mentioned the implementation of the new requirement would take place within the next nine months.
As of today, two months after this announcement, Lionbridge technologies still refuses to provide any paid leave.
On April 16, Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella has been invited to the White House and celebrated as a 'champion of change' but  nothing has changed for the 'temporary' workers who have worked for years for Microsoft without any paid leave and continue to do so.
We can see no reason for Microsoft not to implement the new requirement right away. Lionbridge Technologies constantly announces record profits but refuses to its employees working for Microsoft the most basic benefits while its competitors (like WIPRO) show it can be done without problem.
Why does Microsoft exempt companies like Lionbridge Technologies from implementing right now the new paid leave requirement?
This coming Memorial Day, Microsoft's 'direct' employees will enjoy a paid holiday. Lionbridge Technologies employees have been offered (with Microsoft's approval) the possibility to work on Memorial Day at the usual hourly rate (starting at $17), not even overtime.
Therefore, people living from pay check to pay check will "choose" to work on Memorial Day instead of being on paid holiday with their family and friends.
Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg announced on May 12 that Facebook had started to implement its new paid leave requirement: Microsoft can do the same.
Facebook also offers $4000 to supplier's employees if they don't have paid maternity/paternity leave. TWA thinks Microsoft should emulate that initiative: that would greatly help the two families who had a child in November and the one expecting a baby for the end of this month.
As things are now, those families did not get one day of paid leave.
The expecting dad prays the baby is born during a week-end.
For some of us this will be the 4th unpaid Memorial Day since starting working for Microsoft.
Microsoft proclaimed 'Paid Time Off Matters": it's time to walk the talk, it's time for the 'change champion' to deliver real change, now.
Philippe Boucher
Temporary Workers of America

TWA has created a dedicated blog to Microsoft Paid Time Off Matters
See the 55 images created by eleven students of Seattle Cornish College of the Arts on the theme of paid leaves on Images for Paid Leave
Read the story of the creation of Temporary Workers of America in the short e-book The Other Microsoft
PS: How much does providing Memorial Day as a paid holiday cost?
Considering the present compensation rate of the 40 Tier1 tester/reviewers working for Microsoft and paid via Lionbridge Technologies we estimate the cost of providing Memorial Day as a paid holiday is $5204. In comparison, Lionbridge CEO, Rory Cowan made last year between $1.522.275 and $2.89 million (that's including part of his stock options): taking into account his $1.5 million compensation, one paid leave day for the 40 employees represents less than one day of Cowan's income and less than four hours when choosing his $2.9 million income. For the first quarter of 2015, Lionbridge posted record earnings and bought back 2 54.000 shares of its common stock for $1.4 million.
A look in the archives: this article in The Stranger from February 1999 about Temp Rights at Microsoft.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How much would it cost to provide Memorial Day as a paid holiday for the 37 Lionbridge Technologies employees of the Microsoft's lab? $5204

Considering the present compensation rate of the 37 or so Tier1 tester/reviewers working for Microsoft and paid via Lionbridge Technologies we estimate the cost for one paid leave day is $5204.
In comparison, Lionbridge CEO, Rory Cowan made last year between $1.522.275 and $2.89 million (that's including part of his stock options): taking into account his $1.5 million compensation, one paid leave day for the 37 employees represents less than one day of Cowan's income and less than 4 hours when choosing his $2.9 million income. 
For the first quarter of 2015, Lionbridge posted record earnings and bought back 254.000 shares of its common stock for $1.4 million.

Cornish College art students help with Microsoft temps' campaign for better benefits

In the Sunday edition of the Seattle Times.

Cornish College art students help with Microsoft temps’ campaign for better benefits.
By mday@seattletimes.com

The labor movement has a rich history of using art to galvanize support, from the black-cat symbol of the Industrial Workers of the World to folk songs by Pete Seeger and the writings of Upton Sinclair.
So when Philippe Boucher, a contractor on Microsoft’s campus who helped organized Washington’s newest union of technology workers, searched the Web for images to depict his campaign for paid time off, he was surprised by what he found.
“There were very few images on these themes,” Boucher said. “Almost nothing.”
Boucher got some help to remedy that. The Bainbridge Island resident ran into a neighbor, Natalia Ilyin, as his campaign was gaining steam this winter. Ilyin, a professor at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, happened to teach a class called “Design for Social Change.”
A partnership was born. Ilyin asked her students to create poster- and advertisement-style images on behalf of the Temporary Workers of America, the union chartered last year by Boucher and fellow employees of a Redmond unit of technology contractor Lionbridge Technologies.
Among the results: A family at a barbecue with the father figure cut out. A man and a child seated at the dinner table next to an empty chair. Someone in a cast worrying about having to rush back to work too soon.
Many of the pieces feature the phrase “Paid Time Off Matters.”
That isn’t a coincidence. In March, several months after Boucher’s campaign began and amid a broader push for better wages and benefits for the lowest-paid workers in a booming technology industry, Microsoft ordered the contractors it buys services from to give their employees 15 days of paid leave a year.
Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith made the announcement in a blog postunder the headline “Paid time off matters.”
Boucher agrees. He’s also keeping an eye out for an opportunity to hold an exhibition of the images.
— Matt Day: mday@seattletimes.com

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sign the petition asking Microsoft to start implementing their paid leave policy for Memorial Day

We just created with Coworker.org' support an on line petition titled "MICROSOFT: Give Memorial Day as paid leave holiday to your supplier's employees."
Take a moment to add your name supporting this demand:
Thousands of people have worked for years for Microsoft via contractors-vendors, without having any paid time off. We think Microsoft's new policy of requiring their suppliers to provide paid time off should be fully implemented as soon as possible.

Memorial Day seems a perfect and very symbolic date to start providing paid leave.
We don't see any technical or financial obstacle to do so and it would be a tangible sign that Microsoft takes its commitment seriously and will implement it promptly.
 This upcoming Memorial Day is an opportunity to ask Microsoft to start implementing its commitment to paid leave now instead of we don't know when.
We think it's worth giving it a try. After you've signed the petition, please take a moment to share it with others.
It's easy – all you need to do is forward this message.
Thank you!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Improved Benefits for Facebook Contractors Employees

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's CEO posted this announcement (below) on FB's blog. You'll notice the similarity with Microsoft's announcement also via the company's blog and with a very similar wording. A few differences still: the $15 minimal wage and $4000 for workers who don't receive parental leave. It's not clear if the minimum 15 days of paid time off includes the 'legal holidays' or if they are added to this package. I wonder if the media compared those benefits to those offered by Facebook to their 'direct' employees. No mention of the eventual 'cost', nor who will pay for it, nor how many people are concerned. Implementation was effective May 1st for some contractors.

May 12, 2015

Improved Benefits for Facebook Contractors

By Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer
Today, I am pleased to announce that we are implementing a new set of standards on benefits for contractors and vendors who support Facebook in the US and do a substantial amount of work with us. These benefits include a $15 minimum wage, minimum 15 paid days off for holidays, sick time and vacation, and for those workers who don’t receive paid parental leave, a $4,000 new child benefit for new parents.
This will give both women and men the flexibility to take paid parental leave, an important step for stronger families and healthier children. 
We’ve been working on these changes for some months and had originally planned to announce this last Monday.
Effective May 1, we’ve already put these standards in place for some of our largest support teams at our Menlo Park headquarters. We will be working to implement this program with a broader set of vendors within the year.
This broader group will include workers who do substantial work for Facebook and who are employed by companies based in the US with more than 25 employees supporting Facebook. 
Taking these steps is the right thing to do for our business and our community. Women, because they comprise about two-thirds of minimum wage workers nationally, are particularly affected by wage adjustments. Research also shows that providing adequate benefits contributes to a happier and ultimately more productive workforce. 
We are committed to providing a safe, fair work environment to everyone who helps Facebook connect the world. This is an important step forward in this work for us.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Lionbridge Technologies, Temporary Workers of America and the National Labor Relations Board

Since August 2013, Lionbridge Technologies has been charged by TWA and investigated by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in four cases concerning violations of the employees rights to organize.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How trustworthy is Lionbridge?

CEO Rory Cowan brags about the fact that Lionbridge Technologies has been selected by Forbes magazine to be for the second consecutive year among its list of the 100  most trustworthy companies in America. He says that "For nearly two decades, we've provided our clients, employees, partners and shareholders with the highest level of transparency, integrity and quality." How does he reconcile this glowing statement with his refusal, after we gave to Lionbridge and Microsoft more than 3 years of excellent work, to provide us with any paid time off nor any pay increase? What level of trust does he think we have in him and this company? Haven't we been compelled to file a charge against Lionbridge for bargaining in bad faith because they refuse to tell us how much Microsoft is paying for our work?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Brad Smith on GeekWire Radio

On saturday April 11, Brad Smith was interviewed by Todd Bishop and John Cook on GeekWire Radio. We have selected below the 4 minute segment devoted to Microsoft's new requirement that it's suppliers provide at least 15 days of paid leave to their employees.
GeekWire’s weekly radio show airs on KIRO Radio (97.3 FM) in the Seattle region, and reaches a worldwide audience via podcast.
Brad Smith's photo by GeekWire.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Comparing Paychecks with CEOs

Comparing paychecks with CEOs is the title of an article by Gretchen Morgenson in this sunday edition of the New York Times. It so happens that we asked what was Rory Cowan's (Lionbridge CEO) annual compensation in one of our 'request for information'. The answer provided was $1.522.275 (for the cash compensation). Reading this article published on March 24 in the Boston Business Journal it looks like Rory took home a bit more: $2.89 million. That's $1.36 million more than what we were told.
How much did you make from Lionbridge in 2014? I received a total of $40.810, for a net of $32.618.
If we estimate the maximum aggregated annual income for all 37 Tier 1 employees at the present rate it's less than Rory's annual compensation: $1.248.960 vs $1.522.275 or $2.89 million.
Let us remember that Rory's representatives at the bargaining table have (until now) refused any pay raise (there has never been a pay raise since the start of the project in December 2011) and have also rejected any type of paid leave. We are therefore curious to see how they'll respond to Microsoft's new requirement to provide at least 15 days of paid leave.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Paid time off matters: Ensuring minimum standards for the people at our suppliers

Find below the text of Brad Smith's post on Microsoft's official blog.

Paid Time Off Matters and Why Inequality Matters

After reading Brad Smith's post "Paid time off matters", I remembered the title of the post Bill Gates devoted to his review of Thomas Piketty's "Capitalism in the 21st century": Why Inequality Matters
Simple coincidence?

More news about Microsoft's announcement and our own situation

In the Washington Post an article by Brigid Schulte that should be published in their paper edition on sunday: From the ranks of Microsoft's permatemps
In the New York Times an article by Claire Cain Miller: From Microsoft, a novel way to mandate paid leave
In The Guardian, Jana Kasperkevic is the only one, I believe, in her article Microsoft to require suppliers to provide paid leave to workers, to provide a link to the original declaration by Brad Smith on Microsoft's blog On The Issues, Paid time off matters: ensuring minimum standards for the people at our suppliers.
In fact, for us this declaration is the most important piece of information as it conveys Microsoft's approach.
It's deserves our/your complete attention as it spells out more practical details.
After reading it one can hope that the supplier's employees themselves will be part of the process and we certainly would like to be included: how this decision by Microsoft will impact the ongoing collective bargaining between us and Lionbridge Technologies will be a test of the concrete consequences of its implementation. We don't have yet a date for the next collective bargaining meeting but we'll let you know as soon as it is determined.
If you know of other interesting articles reporting on this story, thank you for sharing them with us.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

We are in the news today

We are in the news today :)

In the Seattle Times, article by Matt Day

On GeekWire.com, post by Todd Bishop

On the Wonk Blog of the Washington Post, post by Lydia De Pillis

Many questions remain unanswered about how Microsoft's announcement will be implemented and how it will impact or not our present ongoing collective bargaining with Lionbridge Technologies while they have been resolutely against providing any paid leave of any sort.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Thinking about the Bread and Puppet Theater

While we try to imagine ways to express our demands and raise the public awareness and outrage about    the situation of the so called 'temporary'/forever workers, images of the giant puppets of the Bred and Puppet Theater came to me. Could/should puppets be part of our brainstorming?

The Age of Acquiescence?

Naomi Klein reviews in the New York Times The Age of Acquiescence by Steve Fraser, with as subtitle The End and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power.
An interesting argument about the fact that many US workers have no idea there can be another system than the present ultra predatory capitalism. Indeed in our lab, the employees with a background from a country where unions are still well established and benefits like paid vacation, paid sick leave, paid family leave are legally mandated and protected civil rights seem much more prone to fight for them than employees who are 'US natives' and whose sole experience has been jobs without any benefits: although they have worked ten years they never had -for instance- a job with paid vacation. It's more difficult for them to even imagine a few days of paid vacation. That's not even taking into account the propaganda of the dominant ideology that makes fun of all the lazy countries where workers have six weeks paid vacation. Isn't that stupid of the Europeans to enjoy six weeks of paid vacation when they could enjoy none?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Working with Cornish School of Arts to produce communication items

Seattle based Cornish School of the Arts has a class called Design for Social Change where students work pro bono during five weeks to produce images and other communication items for an organization or campaign of their choice. 
This year they have chosen Temporary Workers of America :)
The class started on March 20 and the results will be presented by the end of April.
During this period we'll use this blog as a tool to communicate with the students and share with you what's happening in the class. We'll tag the relevant posts with Cornish School of the Arts, Design for Social Change.

Revisiting the past: February 18 1999 and Temp's Rigths

This article about Temp's Rights by Samantha Shapiro  was published in The Stranger on February 18 1999. Unfortunately, 16 years later, high tech workers are hardly organized and most temps are still not provided with any of the basic benefits like paid sick leave, paid family leave, paid vacation. See also her other article published on June 27, 1999 about the Vizcaino vs Microsoft class action.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

L'autre moitié de Microsoft: French version of The Other Microsoft

The Other Microsoft has now a French edition under the title L'Autre moitié de Microsoft, available as an e-book on Amazon, if you want to practice your French. With a special introduction and a dedicated blog.

Friday, January 16, 2015

In the news

This week we are in the news:

As temp sector grew, so did appeal of Union. Microsoft campus labmates bargain for benefits, in the Tuesday January 13 issue of the Boston Globe, by Katie Johnston

Labor issues at Microsoft prompt talk of policy changesin the Thursday January 15 issue of  the Seattle Times, by Matt Day

Saturday, January 10, 2015


The story of the first election won by Temporary Workers of America, on September 11, 2014 is told in the book THE OTHER MICROSOFT.
Even after working full-time for years, many employees -in fact almost half of Microsoft's workforce- are contracted through vendors who misclassify them as "temporary". As a result they do not receive any benefits: no paid sick leave; no paid family leave; and, no paid vacation. While Microsoft reportedly takes very good care of its "direct" employees, often receiving high marks in "best places to work for" lists, because it provides them with significant benefits, the company continues to ignore the situation of the "permatemps" who work for years on end, often receiving no leave until they are let go. 
This situation contradicts Microsoft's claim to be a good corporate citizen. Microsoft is a signatory of the UN Global Compact and it publicly asserts its commitment to the implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As such, Microsoft should make sure its US suppliers employees get the basic benefits that are mentioned in the Declaration, including Article 24 about "periodic holidays with pay". 
At one small lab on Microsoft's campus in Redmond, frustration with this situation has compelled workers with over two years, to unionize. They voted on September 11, 2014 to form Temporary Workers of America and choose it as their exclusive collective bargaining representative: a first in the high tech milieu. 
This short book tells their story and their hope for positive changes. NOW.