in partnership with
Collective Action in Tech (CAiT) is launching a Fellowship with funding from the Jain Family Institute.
Fellows will receive $500-1000 to share a story of collective action in the tech industry, past or present. This can be a protest, strike, display of solidarity, community-building effort or any other kind of collective project that empowers tech workers speaking out on workplace or broader social issues. For this fellowship, the “tech worker” has an expansive definition. We’re interested in stories not just of software engineers and data scientists, but of all workers in the tech sector including content moderators, warehouse workers, gig workers, and contractors. Content will be published on our website and through one of our media partners.
This year’s theme will focus on collective actions in the Global South (South and Central America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia). The technology industry is a global one, but labor actions in the U.S. and Europe receive disproportionately more media attention than those in the Global South. We seek to address this inequality by giving talented content creators the resources and channels to tell their stories.
In creating this fellowship, we hope that fellows will learn about the similarities and differences of tech worker struggle in various geographies of the Global South and North and bring these learnings to their own site of struggle.
Who We Are
Collective Action in Tech began in 2019 as a digital archive with the ambitious goal of cataloging all publicly reported collective actions in the technology industry around the world. Since then we have expanded to become a research and media project. Our mission is to provide data and insights on organizing in the tech industry, to find connections between different efforts, and to build worker power in tech by raising awareness of the long history of activism in the industry. Our project is managed (collectively) by a group of volunteers that include current and former tech workers, journalists, and academics. You can learn more about us here.
Why Your Story Matters to Us
The idea behind the Collective Action in Tech Fellowship is to provide resources and channels for talented content creators to share their accounts of collective action in the technology industry. Applicants should either be tech workers themselves or have the trust and good faith of the tech worker community they cover. Journalists and academics are welcome but an institutional affiliation is NOT necessary to apply. We are interested in accounts that might otherwise go unreported or underreported in the global press. For this year’s fellowship, we have chosen to focus on stories from the Global South. Based on our own experience running the Collective Action in Tech archive, we have found that actions from this part of the world receive significantly less media coverage than those located elsewhere.
What We Are Looking For
Content can take a variety of forms including written accounts, audiovisual recordings, interviews, or virtual exhibitions. Once selected, you will work closely with members of our group and with our media partners to produce a piece of content for a wider audience. You can find our definition of what constitutes a “collective action in tech” here.
This year, we are seeking projects that document actions in the Global South (South and Central America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia). Actions may be historical or present-day, and we welcome submissions from individuals or groups of up to three people. It’s worth noting, we are interested in the broader story of how the action came together, what strategies were successful, and how workers came to form a community.
At the moment, we can only consider pieces written or translated into English. However, we would be interested in publishing your piece in multiple languages if you are able and willing to provide a translation. Several of our media partners are also willing to publish pieces in multiple languages. We recognize the additional labor required here and stress this is entirely optional.
What We Can Offer
For every fellow accepted into the program, we can offer:
- $500-1000 per project based on team size and resources needed for the project
- Publication on our website AND with one of our media partners
- Membership in a community of fellows and CAiT members and contributors; optional virtual workshops for providing feedback and reviewing pieces
The fellowship will run from March 15th to June 15th, 2021. Fellows will be required to attend a minimum of two Zoom meetings to meet other recipients and to offer a brief description of their work. For those who are interested, there are opportunities to become further involved with our larger project. We are planning to recruit 3-6 fellows for this year’s program.
How To Apply
Our Media Partners
Every fellow will be matched with a media partner that best represents the scope of their story within the first few weeks of the fellowship. Media partners commit to providing feedback on a piece of content as it is being researched and produced. At the end of this process, your piece will be published on our website and through the media partner to ensure it reaches a wide audience.
Please note, we cannot guarantee you publication with any particular media partner. We have chosen to partner with a range of publications in order to provide several potential outlets for the diverse applications we hope to receive. Final publication decisions are made by the media partners.All pieces will be published on the Collective Action in Tech website and shared through our social media. In addition, all publications will be referenced and linked in a capsule essay for the Jain Family Institute’s Phenomenal World blog.
Examples of Content
(A) Long-form journalism: 2,000 to 5,000 words describing an action. If the author is involved in the action or in organizing, this is explicitly mentioned in the piece, along with an explanation of how their perspective informs their view. Examples:
- Chan, Wilfred. 2020. “The Future of the Gig Economy Is on the Ballot”. The Nation. https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/prop-22-ab5-california/
- Stapleton, Claire. 2019. “Google Loved Me, Until I Pointed Out Everything That Sucked About It”. Elle. https://www.elle.com/culture/tech/a30259355/google-walkout-organizer-claire-stapleton/
(B) Activist oral histories: Transcribed and/or recorded interviews with activists involved in organizing an action. The final product should be an analytic piece combining different stories. The raw audio files and transcripts may also be added to the archive as part of the documentation for specific events. Examples:
- Redwine, Clarissa. 2020. “Kickstarter Union Oral History”. NYU Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy. https://engelberg-center-live.simplecast.com/
- Nolan, Hamilton. 2020. “A Bunch of Union Organizers Explain What’s Wrong with Unions”. In These Times. https://inthesetimes.com/article/union-density-workers-organizing-staff-experts-public-enthusiasm
(C) Virtual event archives: A short narrative piece that presents an action but also prominently incorporates photo, video, and audio materials to place the bulk of the storytelling on the physical collection of artifacts. Example:
- Gomez, Filiberto Nolasco. 2020. “Thursday Night Shakopee Amazon Workers Walked Out”. Work Day Minnesota. https://workdayminnesota.org/thursday-night-shakopee-amazon-workers-walked-out-in-protest-of-worker-firing/
(D) Other: multimedia, resource toolkits, or other forms that can represent a worker struggle in the tech industry. Examples:
- Wallace, Brett. 2019. “Inside the Automation: Amazon Mechanical Turk”. http://brettwallace.com/amazon-mechanical-turk/
- CAiT. 2020. A 3-part guide for tech action against white supremacy. https://collectiveaction.tech/2020/collective-action-in-tech-for-black-lives-matter/