Cyberunions Podcast Episode 88 We’re Back!!

Ogg lite


  • Where have we been?
  • What have we done?
  • Where are we now?
  • Walton is still in Glasgow and Stephen is *not* in Mexico
  • Our careers and what is keeping us busy


  • Labourstart or Laborstart for the non-british english speakers
  • UNI conference and the scope of the labor movement activism online


  • Free software and the movements
  • Libreplanet & CiviCON and how it relates
  • Place for movements to collaborate

Popular Tech

  • Looking at Snapchat and how it could relate to organizing precarious workers
  • Ideas of opening up the API and making it more secure


  • Thanking Derek Blackadder
  • South African accent is invading Stephen’s satire dependence in The Daily Show with Trevor Noah save the conversation for another time

Free software is to code as labor unions are to workers and neither are revolutionary

Full Disclosure: I work full time for the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the views expressed here do not reflect the views of the FSF or my position at the FSF.

This is a point that has been stirring in my mind for some time.  In addition to my free software experience I have also spent years studying and organizing in the work place.  As I have mentioned on the oggcast, there are similarities between the labor movement and the free software movement and here I am going to expand on that a bit. It is a challenge to write this because it is not clear who I am intending the audience to be, whether it is free software activists or labor union activists. In this case I am going to try to cover both, so bear with me as we move forward.

Labor unions are to workers as free software is to code, no not
revisiting SATs, but lets explore how they are not revolutionary. What
we know about free software licenses is that it protects the code, it
prevents the code from being hidden and locked down. Labor unions in a similar form protect the workers and prevent workplace conditions from being covered up. If injustices exist in the workplace a union can bring those workplace conditions to be brought to the public or commons sometimes resulting in successful actions. When there are violations to free software, actions can be taken to force compliance, much like when there are violations to a labor contract, actions can be taken to force compliance.

Both a free software license and a union contract are documents with
specifics of what can and cannot be done and both rely heavily on
laws to enforce them. In the case of a union contract, in US and many
other countries, there exist labor laws and in the case of free
software it is copyright law. However both movements, free software and labor unions, are connected to do not require laws as there is a larger struggle in fighting for our rights. Rights are not required to have laws though many are enforced with legal backing, but the right to protest and the right to go on strike or the right to view the source code of any and all software and the right to do with that source code whatever you need or want are what we call inalienable or universal rights.

Union made gives us the assurance that the workers have some kind of protections to their rights in the workplace in having more control in determining their working conditions. Free software licensed software we know we can look at the code, research it and use it. However neither of these by their nature in fact changes the relationship in how the final product is developed.

Your boss or manager still reigns over the decisions and planning
needed to take place for their goals to be met. Their goals tend to be
productivity based, yes a unions can slow the profit gains and the
speed of productivity, but it does not change the relationship it but only changes some of the power dynamics, but the mode stays the same. Free software also changes the power dynamics instead of one company hoarding the source code, it creates openness to the availability of the source code to others to develop, but the relationship in the workplace tends to remain the same for there is a boss or manager in the workplace for that software. Granted there are some projects that lack that model and there are some workplaces that do as well, and they at the moment are the outliers but are great examples of how we can change the mode of production, more on that a bit farther, back to the point.

We can think about project management and who decides what code comes into a project, much like a union can decide which workplace changes they will accept. The point here is that if we want the movements to grow strong we need to step it up we need to go beyond a defensive position to protect and instead advance a new form of production. Just because it is free software does not mean multinational corporations are not making profits at exorbitant rates, cause they are, just like the workplaces with unions are still making tons of profits. To make these movements revolutionary we need to challenge the system at its core, that is to shift the form in which we produce. A dictator can create free software but that clearly does not fit our ideals, a dictator can also support unions but again it does not fit the ideals of the freedom we espouse.

The point is by themselves a union contract and a free software license are defending us, but we need to take from it and build the social movement which requires revolutionary changes. To garner the changes means to exercise these freedoms, we need to think about how we can actually make the substantial changes needed to alter the form in which we produce. Maybe like bringing democracy to the forefront of the production, something that would revolutionize a workplace and software projects by altering the historical forms we are accustom.

Which projects or work places can you think of that express these rights and freedoms? It is great to celebrate those achievements when and where they exist as models. Places where free software and worker power come together in forms of democracy, where the community involved decides how and what to produce.


Cyberunions Episode 87 Yes IndyRef Yes!

Ogg -lite


  • Stephen is in Mexic—-Scotland!!
  • We have been Civi…er…busy
  • Been on a pub crawl er… podcrawl kevie & mcnalu



  • Walton goes Independent to explain the details of the campaign for an Independent Scotland
  • Stephen asks some detailed questions
  • More info for Radical Independence


  • Welcome new listeners
  • Stephen highly recommends a book Strike For America and goes into detail about the book being a good read for activists and a model for reforming a union

Cyberunions Episode 86: MayDay! Programming Sucks and Strikes in China


Ogg Low Quality



  • Stephen is back in Mexico City
  • Walton went to Geneva

Tech Talk

  • Walton introduces us to a great article on why Programming Sucks
  • Stephen enjoys the analogy from the article
  • Programmers are crazy!
  • Why heartbleed was bad, but why it reinforces FLOSS as the best method for development
  • May First People Links audio will be available on the site soon
  • Who is to say the proprietary one is also not compromised? what overview is there for that?
  • The best part is that since it is FLOSS it is humanly readable by anyone that seeks to do so.

Labor Talk

  • Walton goes into great depth in discussing the strikes in China
  • Great to be talking on MayDay about Strikes in China
  • Walton & Stephen have hopes for China to create capitalism to then kill it for all out communism!


  • Our podcast rss feed should be working again, Stephen discovered not all podcatchers like ssl certificates

Our heartbleed[s] Discussion at People Links Digital Gathering

For those of you who might not know, Cyberunions is a proud member of May First / People Link (If you’d like to host your site on our servers join mayfirst here) who this year began a monthly digital gathering called People Links and this month the discussion is quite intriguing about the heartbleed security flaw.

A couple of great members of May First / People link will be discussing the issue with a non-technical focus for a broader understanding of what it means, how to respond and why it strengthens free, libre open source software movement,  rather than the outcry of its weakness.

This is a gathering open to all, whether you are a member or not, in the US or Mexico or not. We intend to record it and make sure it is available for others to listen. So make some room for this Thursday (April 24th) at 6pm EDT/5pm CDT to join the call. We will have riseup pad for people to ask questions for our two members Abi from National Lawyers Guild and May First Support Team and Steve Revilak Software Developer and May First Support Team come to discuss in detail the implications and outcomes.

For more info on the Event visit and bookmark

Cyberunions Episode 85 Unionizing the South: The lessons from VW



Interview Edition

  • Chris Brooks  from Chattanooga For Workers
  • Chris gives a great historical background to the radical history of Chattanooga Tennessee
  • Stephen thinks there is 95% union density based on the history
  • Right to work is an ideology deeply ingrained in the society, local labor unions have no plans to fight right to work laws
  • Right to work is often confused with worker “at will”
  • UAW is not new to Tennessee with the GM Saturn plant, but the drive with VW sparked global interest
  • Chris describes the UAW presence is not new many small locals, but still frustrating
  • Over $570,000,000 from tax subsidies was given to VW to bring the plant there
  • Tennessee has the highest proportion of workers on minimum wage and the highest sales tax. $288,000 tax subsidies for each job created
  • Same time austerity cuts came in at the same time, so social welfare organization
  • Steal from the poor bribe the rich to provide jobs for the working people
  • The struggle by the community organization just extended to VW.
  • When the UAW came in to organize they do not see the social justice unions or community organizing or bottom up organizing
  • The business model of UAW unionizing does not fit in the local struggle.
  • In the south the company can be neutral toward unions but the society is *not* neutral
  • Numerous right wing tactics, but the right started to take leftist tactics but on the right
  • Southern Momentum is being called a Workers’ Center but it is a right wing back organization.
  • The right are using legitimate criticisms of the UAW to build an anti-union discourse
  • Where were the frustrations with UAW and the organizing
  • Lack of bottom up, media messaging from Detroit, but in the local press was local people slamming the union, the right-wing used the local voices to fight
  • UAW did not try to promote or lift up local voices for different narratives.
  • Group of labor activists created Chattanooga For Workers (CFW) adhoc organization to lift up alternative voices
  • ALEC funded event with Wall Street Journal said “unions are cancer”, CFW did a pray vigil against ALEC and UAW did not try to promote
  • The local press is so close to those in power, the south needs national news to inform people.
  • Mike Elk and Steve Greenhouse came down to try to raise the stories
  • We had a community forum about the right-wing attacks, and the UAW no show
  • CFW went directly to the workers, a meet regularly to discuss the actual conditions.
  • Labor Notes was keen on bringing the actual voices from the factory on what happened
  • Workers on hold now as the UAW tries to figure out the next steps.
  • Leaked documents show that the Governor’s chief of staff was coordinating with anti-union groups and was specifically leveraging $300 million on an SUV line with VW to work against the workers.
  • The Germans’ had no idea what they were getting into, they had no idea that the politicians would be so anti-union
  • The local corporate class view VW as a class trader
  • “Free Markets” is such bullshit, bosses should not be regulated, but workers should be.
  • The right-wing did what the UAW should have been doing in the first place
  • VW committed to the US but not the south thanks to Sen. Corker
  • National Right to Work Foundation Lawyer was overheard that Mercedes money was used to fight the unionization drive.
  • Working conditions are harsh, much like we know from UAW history that was eliminated in the 1930s
  • No place for full recovery
  • CFW talking to workers about concerted action, that rights exist without workers, things can be done.
  • Feeling amongst workers is that they cannot wait for UAW but need to take action on their own.
  • Fundraising Chattanooga for Workers supporting the VW workers that lost their jobs Please Donate! it is through the  Mercy Junction PayPal

Cyberunions Episode 84 To Where Labor Day Started



  • Met Listeners in person matt and michael both in the Chicago area
  • In fact recording from matt’s place now
  • Lots to talk about from this week in chicago
Labor Talk
  • labor notes conference
  • Stephen attended on behalf of May First / People Link
  • extensive discussion of the various workshops that Stephen attended
  • In particular the VW chattanooga panel on the UAW organizing drive met Chris who worked on the facebook Chattanooga for Workers in support of the UAW drive. Really good analysis from two workers that were in the plant organizing.
Tech Talk
  • From the CWA telecom session a clear generational gap amongst the labor activists.
  • Met some awesome folks involved in the CWA next generation
  • labor tendency to support capitalism
  • need to build and fund activist network software
  • encourage labor activists to join the Organizing Network
  • Michael will be posting our content on reddit for us since my account got blocked

Cyberunions Episode 83 What women want, we remain neutral






  • First off sorry for episode 82’s bad sound quality hopefully this time we have it sorted
  • If you missed it Cyberunions is redesigned!
  • with a resources section (was stuck in draft form for months)
  • Our new software libre alpha section where some software is tested out
  • Stephen is Learning a lot about WordPress Multisite abilities,
  • Organising network is going well and Walton writes about it

Tech Talk

  • Net Neutrality Why is this important to labor
  • labor notes conference planning
  • challenge of talking tech concerns to non-tech communities
  • issues with CWA and IBEW on net-neutrality


  • International Womens Day March 8th and where we are in relation
  • We are not advancing as we should
  • RMT’s long time activists Bob Crow passes away
  • We talk of his history and actions


  •  people are happy that we are back, we think all 1 of you 😉

New Design to a Point

This is a new design I am playing with at the moment, as the platform pro we had before no longer is supported, as since we have a history of an old theme coming back to haunt us, the new theme has been put to use.

Please let us know what you think. You may notice the new aside –> where we can label posts as audio to be view on the right side. I still need to tweak some posts so they are not so long. 

Also we are using a new WordPress Front End Editor which is likely to be part of the WordPress core. I have to say it is rather nice .

I will keep this short for you all

Every social network has an ideology

Karl Marx on Facebook. What is the ideology of your social network?
Karl Marx on Facebook. What is the ideology of your social network?

– By Walton Pantland

A social network isn’t a neutral space. It is designed for a purpose, and that purpose is ideological.

Is your social network designed by techies, out of a pure love for seeing what is technologically possible? Is it designed to bring people together, to help them organise? Or is it designed to sell them things, and to collect data? Or, more insidiously, is it designed to give the illusion of bringing people together, so that it can sell things and collect data?

If it’s collecting data, what is the date being used for? Sociological research? Control and surveillance? Marketing? Or is it to help people organise politically? Continue reading Every social network has an ideology