Josh Harkinson

Josh Harkinson


Born in Texas and based in San Francisco, Josh covers tech, labor, drug policy, and the environment. PGP public key.

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This Silicon Valley Giant Is Actually Hiring Women and Minorities

| Wed Aug. 12, 2015 2:51 PM EDT

In January, Intel raised the bar in Silicon Valley by setting concrete targets for hiring women and minorities. While other major tech firms had cut big checks to groups that promote workplace diversity, Intel was the only one to commit to measurable change, pledging to make its workforce reflect the diversity of the tech talent pool by 2020. Some saw the goal as overly optimistic, but Intel's midyear diversity report, released today, shows that it is largely on track to meet its goals.

Overall, more than 43 percent of the company's new hires since January have been women or racial minorities such as African-Americans and Hispanics:

These numbers may not seem particularly high—African-Americans, after all, make up 13 percent of the American workforce but just 3.5 percent of Intel's. But they do compare favorably with the talent pipeline for technical jobs. (Just 4.5 percent of computer science degrees last year went to African-Americans). And the overall demographics in the tech sector are pretty skewed to white dudes:

Compared to those industry-wide numbers, Intel is still falling behind in hiring African-Americans. Yet a comparison of workplace demographics in December and July shows that it's making progress on several fronts: 

Though these shifts aren't huge in percentage terms, they are notable for a company with tens of thousands of employees. The biggest jumps in minority representation have come within the company's leadership ranks—which still remain heavily white and male:

Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose Rainbow PUSH Coalition has played a major behind-the-scenes role in Intel's efforts to diversify, issued a press release praising the company. "Rainbow PUSH argues that companies must set measurable diversity and inclusion goals, targets, and timetables," he said. "Due to CEO Brian Krzanich's steady and visionary leadership, Intel is doing that and more."

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Verizon Launches App To Conduct Surveillance On Its Own Striking Workers

| Wed Aug. 5, 2015 11:02 AM EDT
"Can you spy on me now?" Union organizers have criticized Verizon's "snitch app."

Verizon, facing a potential strike by 39,000 unionized workers, has rolled out a smartphone app designed to help its managers document and report violations of its "code of conduct" during a work stoppage.

Contract negotiations between the CWA and Verizon have stalled in recent days after the union objected to reduced job security, increases in health care costs, and slashed retirement benefits for its members.

A Verizon spokesman says the app, which allows users to snap geo-tagged photos of striking employees and send them to company executives, was designed in response to unspecified past incidents of vandalism and harassment during strikes. "We believe strongly that this is not an invasion of privacy," says spokesman Raymond McConville. "This is completely lawful and necessary to ensure that our employees are safe."

"This particular thing is just an example of how arrogant and obnoxious they are," counters Bob Master, the vice-president of the Communication Workers of America District 1, which is negotiating the new contract on behalf of Verizon fiber optics workers in New York and eight other East Coast states.

The worker concessions sought by Verizon are related, in part, to its decision to focus on its wireless business at the expense of building out its fiber optic network—a shift that hurts consumers, the union says. Indeed, a New York City audit found that Verizon had failed to meet its promise to deliver high-speed fiber optic internet and television to everybody in New York City who wanted it.

The CWA contends that the app is just another way for Verizon, which earned $9.6 billion in profits last year, to gain the upper hand. "I think they definitely projected this as a way of intimidating people," Master says. "At the bargaining table [our negotiators] call it the snitch app."

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