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"New economy" workers are taking it on the chin

April 27, 2001 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,

I work at Cnet.com, an Internet company which is unique in the industry because it actually makes a profit. But in early February, Cnet announced it was laying off 10 percent of its workforce--about 190 people. Those were "the easy ones," the company is saying, because the departments were made redundant when Cnet bought out its only serious competition late last year.

For those of us who got through the first round of cuts, we've been told that there are "no guarantees"--and that anyone could be among the next 100 to lose their job. We're also told that these layoffs are good because they will curb future cutbacks--when the recession really hits us. Not much consolation for those who got fired or those of us who remain behind to face an uncertain future.

People in my office are worried. While many make above-average incomes, rents in San Francisco are astronomical.

But what about making millions off stock options? I have the option to buy stock from Cnet--at a price of $50 per share! For several months, the stock has hovered around $15, which makes my options less than worthless.

Recently, there was a glimmer of hope as customer service workers at Amazon.com began organizing a union to protect themselves against cutbacks. Then, a union drive was launched at Etown.com in San Francisco, which promised to be the first union election at an Internet company.

But in the past month, the entire customer service department at Amazon that was organizing got laid off. And Etown has shut down completely--but not before trying to bust the union. This shows exactly why we need unions in this industry--to protect us from layoffs in the coming recession and to guarantee that our interests are not put last.

Scott Johnson , Oakland, Calif.

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