Open letter to all tech and non tech workers

Everyday I have been asking myself for the past 6 months, what role should (tech) workers have when it comes to Palestine solidarity? Usually raising this question brings discomfort in the room, but if my work in the Tech Workers Coalition is worth anything, I would strongly encourage you to continue reading.

TWC Background

A little about myself, my name is Yonatan Miller and I am one of the volunteers and co-founders of the Berlin Tech Workers Coalition. I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish background in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York and moved in 2015 to Berlin, a city I call home today. In early 2019 we knew there were few avenues for migrant tech workers to collectively organize in their workplaces and to engage the broader political sphere. We didn’t know what we were doing, but instead of waiting for an outside savior, we decided to educate ourselves and take the first steps.

Over the past 5 years we have continuously practiced our fundamental beliefs that tech workers like, all workers, are not only worthy of dignity and respect, but that we collectively have a lot of power to change our workplaces and society for the better.

Some of our campaigns had obvious and immediate appeal internally and abroad, like hosting educational workshops, translating materials from German into languages spoken by migrants in Berlin, or forming works councils with employees that reflected their workplaces regardless of their social background.

Other initiatives were incredibly controversial in the beginning, for example at an early meeting of Berlin Vs Amazon, attendees asked why tech workers were sitting in the room – weren’t we the root cause of gentrification?

Palestine solidarity

Globally Tech Workers Coalition has been speaking out. Last week, over 50 Google employees were fired, including a personal friend of mine for demanding Google drop its military contract Project Nimbus. In late 2023, we polled our members in the Berlin Tech Workers Coalition whether to address Palestine solidarity publicly or not. The majority of respondants sympathized with the cause, but cautiously said we are in no position to comment or risk our political currency.

Unrelatedly, in mid-October 2023, we brought together 120 migrant tech workers from 50 different workplaces to network on other issues. We received reports and personal accounts already by Jewish and Muslim attendees experiencing racism in their workplaces and streets, but we didn’t host any forum on the topic.

A month later, in November 2023, a dozen Jewish members (mostly from different tech companies in this network) published an internal letter to the different trade union bodies, expressing our disappointment in a one-sided statement. Read it for yourself, the only thing that has significantly changed are the numbers.

Fast forward to April 2024, six-months later… 35,000 Palestinians and 1,200 Israelis have been killed. In Gaza, 290,000 homes have been destroyed by the Israeli government using AI technologies leveraged by Amazon, Google and military weaponry built and transported by German workers (30% of Israel’s military imports come from Germany, second only to the United States).

This is already concerning as is, but the erosion of political speech and freedom of assemblies within Germany makes this a worker issue that we cannot ignore. Academics have been dis-invited, journalists have been censured, students exmatriculated, the list continues…

As migrants and tech workers, too many of us have personal stakes and we cannot ignore this topic. This conversation cannot be led by tech workers only, but together with healthcare workers, logistics workers and all other workers alarmed by the situation, I strongly encourage you join the new initiative that is launching on May Day called Trade unionists 4 Gaza / Gewerkschafter*innen 4 Gaza: Sign up here

March with us on 1 May 10:00 AM at the Class Struggle bloc of the Trade Union Demonstration at the corner of Karl Marx Allee / Pariser Kommune in Berlin.

We will march on May Day and we will continue the less glamorous work of educating regular workers, hosting educational forums, and expanding the horizon of trade unionism in the global and domestic spheres.

Solidarity is critical, when it is the most challenging.

Yours in solidarity, Yonatan “Yoni” Miller IG Metall member Central Works Council Chair @ Share Now

Get involved! @TechWorkersBER