Sunday, June 30, 2013

How Microsoft spoiled my Fourth of July

With July 4th approaching, a friend sent us this short text to post on our blog and circulate as we like.
Jane Veedash will expand her reflections about jobs without benefits at Microsoft in an upcoming book, 'The Other Microsoft'.

How Microsoft spoiled my Fourth of July
by Jane Veedash

I work for Microsoft as a 'permatemp'.
I am still (mis)classified as a temporary employee although I have worked full time continuously for more than one year.
I work 'for' Microsoft though I am not directly employed by Microsoft.
Rather I am paid by a 'vendor', one of the many companies that has a contract with Microsoft and employ 30.000+ people in the Puget Sound area.
As a 'vendor' I wear an orange badge while the 'real' Microsoft's employees carry a blue badge.
The badge allows me to roam the Microsoft's campus in Redmond, but unlike the 'real' Microsoft employees I don't enjoy the blue badge status of benefits, including paid holidays.
Microsoft closes its Redmond campus for the Fourth of July allowing its blue badge employees to enjoy a paid vacation.
To me, an orange badge, it means one day without pay.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and all other public holidays that happen to fall during the week become another day without pay.
Forget about the Fourth of July fireworks: they would force me to get to bed too late while I have to leave at dawn the next day without even thinking about taking Friday off.
I can already hear the get yourself a better job lazy, be happy you have one, love it or leave it compassionate comments.
I'll persist protesting because this is a serious issue when you live from pay check to pay check and need to work as much as you can to pay the bills.

Double Standard

What irks me even more is Microsoft's hypocrisy in this matter.
In 2006, Microsoft signed the UN 'Global Compact' initiative, inciting mega corporations to implement human rights.
Since then, Microsoft trumpets its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, most recently in its Global Human Rights Statement of April 2012, and swears it is doing its best to be a good corporate citizen, requiring all of its suppliers to do the same.
Unfortunately Microsoft chooses to ignore its vendor's lack of fulfilling Article 24 of the Universal Declaration: 'Everyone has the right to periodic holidays with pay.'
Why all the fuss for one day without pay?
 Because this July 4th has a significant price tag in the millions of dollars in lost income for the 30.000+ so called temporary workers working for Microsoft's suppliers who are denied this very basic human right.
A human right adopted in December 1948, but still not implemented here 65 years later.
If Microsoft chose to be consistent with its own proclaimed commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it would require all of its US suppliers to provide 'periodic holidays with pay', without reducing employees' present wages.
Such a move to implement paid holidays would represent less than 1% of the profits made by Microsoft last year and I could at last enjoy the Fourth of July and the other official holidays.


Temp's Rights by Samantha M Shapiro (The Stranger, February 18, 1999)
Temporary Victory by Samantha M Shapiro (The Stranger, June 27, 1999)
Microsoft announces participation in the Global Compact (November 22, 2006)

Microsoft's Global Human Rights Statement (April 2012): commitment to all Human Rights (Google doc)

Link to the page in the Microsoft's site where their Global Human Rights Statement is referenced
Microsoft Report about its implementation of the Global Compact (July 2012) (Google doc, see page 2)
Dan Bross, Director of Microsoft's Corporate Citizenship about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 2012)
About the number of contingent workers at Microsoft, post by Benjamin Romeno in the Seattle Times blog Microsoft Pri0 (March 3, 2009)
Article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
About the indivisibility of Human Rights
A downward trend in Washington State
No-Vacation Nation revisited: report of the Center ofr Economic and Policy Research (May 2013)

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