News from this week indicate how job listings have become a useful tool, despite being an unlikely field for political activity. A series of strikes occurred last year, along with workers unionising in prominent companies like Apple, Amazon and Starbucks this year. Online job listings, with its connected application process have emerged has crucial tools for activists in the tech field. They are utilising it to sabotage and reveal companies’ efforts towards union busting and mistreatment of employees.
Recently, several people on the internet have systematically derailed efforts to hire anti-union consultants at companies like Starbucks. They spammed application pools with a vast number of fake applications. In February, Gen-Z For Change coder Sofia Ongele took to TikTok to call out Starbucks on firing 7 workers for unionising efforts. She went on to inform users about a ‘website’ she and her friends created which they can use to ‘flood the application pool,’ letting Starbucks know that unionising is helpful for workers.
This week, New York City-based union SEIU Local 32BJ exposed a detail while organising fast food workers. They revealed how there has been significant amount of racial discrimination in job hiring at Chipotle Mexican Grills for managerial positions. Apparently, they used a bot to spam job applications to see who all received a response from the company.
“I’ve never seen anything like these new efforts at Kellogg’s and Starbucks,” said John Logan, a labour studies professor at San Francisco State University.
Logan referred to the methods by activists exposing union-busting practices, owing to them being behind all these years. These new ways for exposing such employers come in at the of ample excitement for the US labour movement, mainly among youngsters. The National Labor Relations Board recorded an increase of 69% in workers filing union elections in last six months. Moreover, approval was highest i.e., 77% among the people between 18 and 34.
Notably, job applications emerged as an effective method against employers at one crucial instance last year. This was when Texas passed a law making aid to abortion seekers who were over 6 weeks pregnant, illegal. This was when Sean Wiggs, a 21-year-old coder and TikTok influencer from North Carolina wrote a script that spammed a Texas anti-abortion. In this, people were able to report any violation of the new law. In less than two weeks, several people spammed the website which was ultimately taken down.
Last year, when Kellogg’s workers went on strike at some facilities, Wiggs took the chance to utilise this code to Kellogg’s applications for strikebreakers, or so-called jobs. In the next few days, the step “exploded” on Reddit. According to Wiggs, Kellogg’s ultimately shut down the job application portal. From then, Wiggs became a part of the ‘Gen-Z For Change’ organisation. In it, he along with other coders regularly requests the followers to similarly spam anti-union employers with such job listings.
Moreover, he wrote another script for the campaign ‘Change is Brewing.’ This had been used to spam Starbucks over 140,000 times with fake applications for positions in stores.