- Tech workers and community activists marched in front of the Salesforce headquarters in San Francisco Monday to protest the company’s contract with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
- The protest coincides with the CBP’s separation of migrant families and their children as they cross the border illegally.
- The protest also comes a couple of weeks after a letter, signed by 650 Salesforce employees to persuade CEO Marc Benioff to end the contract, went disregarded.
- Similar protests have ignited across the industry as part of a larger movement as tech workers from various companies speak out against how the technology they build is used.
Tech workers and community activists gathered in front of the Salesforce headquarters in San Francisco Monday morning to protest the tech giant’s contract with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.
The protest comes on the heels of a letter signed in late June by 650 Salesforce employees who sought to persuade CEO Marc Benioff to end the company’s contract with the CBP, which uses the company’s Analytics and Community and Service Cloud programs.
Nothing came of the letter, prompting an uproar amongst tech workers and local activists who showed their solidarity with the 650 Salesforce employees by marching outside its headquarters Monday.
The issue at the heart of the protest is a part of a larger movement in the industry that has tech workers from various companies speaking out against how the technology they build is used. In June, Amazon employees wrote an open letter to CEO Jeff Bezos protesting the company’s facial recognition contracts with law enforcement. Like the letter penned by Salesforce employees, it went unaddressed by its CEO.
“The workers here need to have a voice and need to have a seat at the table,” said protest attendee and tech employee Stephanie Parker. “If we don’t want to build it, we’re not going to build it and we’re going to have our voice heard one way or another about this.”
Here’s what the protest looked like:
About 25 protestors marched with banners in front of the Salesforce headquarters at 415 Mission St. in San Francisco Monday starting at around 10am.
Most were tech workers, many of whom remained anonymous. Their goal: to persuade Salesforce executives to cancel the company’s contract that supplies the CBP with software.
The signs they carried read messages like “Caging children is a crime, not a business model.”
Protestors bellowed chants like “No justice, no peace” and “No kids in cages.” They echoed across the street and down the block.
The protest took place outside Salesforce Tower, the gleaming $US1 billion skyscraper that opened in May and now serves as the tech company’s headquarters.
The building, the tallest office tower west of the Mississippi River at 1,070 feet, opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in May with CEO Marc Benioff in attendance.
The protest is part of the backlash against the government’s separation of migrant families and their children who are illegally crossing the border into the U.S.
Following the letter signed by employees in late June, a Salesforce representative said the company was not working with the CBP “regarding the separation of families at the border.”
Source: Business Insider
Claire Lau, co-chair of the city’s Progressive Alliance organisation, likened Salesforce’s reliance on its employees to America’s on immigrants. “Salesforce was built on the backbone of its workers. Without its workers, Salesforce would not be where it is today. So we need to be respecting and validating our immigrants in this country — Salesforce needs to be validating its workers.”
Benioff has donated money on behalf of Salesforce to a number of charities, including local hospitals, which former city district supervisor Christina Olague acknowledged. But she said Benioff shouldn’t stop there.“It isn’t enough for you to try to buy your way to heaven and buy your way out of this issue.”
Benioff wasn’t the only exec singled out at the protest; co-founder Patrick Harris and Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet’s faces were also emblazoned on some of the banners.
Unlike a 2017 Uber protest in which activists chained themselves to the door, the Salesforce protesters did not try to stop employees from going to work.
The protesters outside Salesforce Tower weren’t blocking the doors in any way, and most of the Salesforce employees that entering or exiting the building just glanced at the scene and continued on their way. Police were on location, but for the most part hung back.
The protestors drafted a pledge for Salesforce execs to sign ending the CBP contract. They took turns listing off the names and yelling “Shame! Shame!” after each one.
Kevin Ortiz, an executive member of the city’s Latino Democratic Club, pointed out the contrast to Salesforce’s corporate culture and its celebration of “Ohana” — the Hawaiian word for family. “They talk about the Ohana family — we are all one family.”
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