Coworker launches a sister organization: Solidarity Fund to support tech activism

The labor support and capacity-building organization Coworker , which has supported a variety of tech labor activism efforts over the years, has announced a sister organization, the “Solidarity Fund by Coworker”. The Solidarity Fund has just launched its web site, email list signup, and donation portal at coworkerfund.org. While the splash page features a photo from the Mountain View women’s walkout of November 2018, the fund isn’t Google-specific.

Some extracts from the Solidarity Fund’s web site:

Coworker Solidarity Fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that helps groups of workers raise and distribute money, form effective workplace committees, and experiment with mutual aid and organized advocacy to make changes inside their companies and industries.

Our pilot fund is designed to support workers in the tech industry and its supply chain who are fighting for safer, more equitable jobs in their industry. If you work in tech and are organizing coworkers -- staging walk-outs, speaking to media, circulating petitions, and more -- then consider applying when applications open later this fall!

Establishing the Fund with 501c4 non-profit status, rather than the more common 501c3 status, is an interesting choice, presumably made after legal consultation based on what the founders intend to do with the organization. 501c4 status offers a significant amount of political and messaging flexibility, including the ability to endorse candidates for public office, though it also means that donors won’t receive a tax deduction for their donations, and that donations won’t be eligible for any company-sponsored matching programs. Creation of a “sister 501c4” organization is a very common choice for larger organizations, so it’s good to see a Coworker-affiliated organization that now has the political flexibility of a 501c4.

The Fund’s launch site does suffer from the common, and unfortunate, trend towards secrecy in the tech labor movement by not telling us who’s on the board of directors or in leadership at the organization, or who will make the funding decisions that allocate the moneys the Fund is already soliciting as donations. Compare Coworker.org itself, which has happily provided the names, photos, and detailed bios of all its staff members on its public web site. Basic information about the Solidarity Fund’s leadership will eventually become available once the IRS catches up on updates to its tax-exempt organization search database, and as state corporate entity search portals catch up to current reality. In the meantime, however, we can get some limited insight into participation in the organization from other public information sources:

- Coworker’s Managing Director, Aisha Satterwhite, mentions on her Linkedin page that she’s an advisor to the Solidarity Fund. No surprise here.

- Google Women’s Walkout co-organizer Meredith Whittaker recently noted that she’s on the board of the Fund:

Happy to be on the Board of the Coworker Solidarity Fund, supporting workers organizing for better working conditions and just work. We're starting with a focus on tech and tech supply chain workers, and expanding from there

- The Buzzfeed bio for Thanksgiving Four member Laurence Berland mentions that he’s “co-chair of the Coworker Solidarity Fund Alphabet Committee”.

The fund isn’t yet accepting applications for funds (“Applications will open later this fall”), so right now this project is in watch-and-see mode, to get a sense of what types of worker projects they plan to fund. You can subscribe to the Fund’s email list using the signup form on the main page.

- Bruce

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