At first glance You Deserve a Tech Union might feel like a bit of a departure after Ethan Marcotte’s previous books published by A Book Apart, but on closer read it proves to be a continuation of his work from the last several years documenting and interrogating our industry: what gets to be considered a tech job, and who gets to be called a tech worker? What do we owe each other, when tech companies, big and small, are intent on deskilling our work to chase profits?
Ethan uses the initial chapters to quickly show how the tech industry is, despite its self-described exceptionalism, yet another site in the long history of capital exploitation. Fortunately, there’s an equally long lineage of worker solidarity actively resisting that exploitation, and that’s why I was so excited about this book.
A Book Apart bills their mission as publishing short books on tech-related topics and making them “practical and fun”. This book is short to be sure, but don’t mistake brevity for a lack of depth—it is meticulously researched, well-structured, and shot through with a clear-eyed urgency. Ethan sets the the stage with a brief historical overview and then guides the reader through practical steps for organizing a union and winning recognition, drawing from the experience of activists, labor organizers, and tech workers of all kinds.
When Ethan writes “The machine comes for me, and for thee” it’s telling tech workers that we can either chase individual survival, or we can act in solidarity in search of mutual flourishing. I’m so glad that this book exists.