Virtual Strike Cripples Lagrange Hyperlayer

Anhedonia Station, Lagrange Orbital Colonial Authority -- 4 Mar. 2057:  Digital labourers in Anhedonia Primary Data Block have called a general strike in response to conditions in an indentured softworks owned by a subsidiary of Omnicor Hypercorp LLC.  The withdrawal of services by uploads and synthetics has crippled hyperlayer access and brought commerce and civil life in the L5 cluster to a virtual standstill.

The softworks in question, an affiliate of the Infomatic franchise which provides a variety of pattern-matching and inferencing services, is nominally represented by the Post-Industrial Workers of the Web, a broad coalition of digital-service labour unions with strong Anarchist leanings.  However, district labour laws in LOCA, which is a traditional stronghold of the Corporatist Party and a haven for the hyper-rich, are extremely strict, permitting the absolute minimum of labour rights guaranteed in the Constitution Accord.  As such, the PWW local chapters cannot be certified because LOCA does not permit boutique unions to affiliate with outside labour coalitions.  Though the shop's indigenous union is technically certified, corporate management has repeatedly refused to enter labour talks with PWW representatives over concerns about the shops's indenture terms, work schedules, dispute resolution and disciplinary procedures, or even allegations of personhood rights abuses at the shop.  A press release provided by PWW Local 32986 states that the union's membership voted late yesterday to call a general strike in response to "escalating aggression and disrespect from representatives of Omnicor management."

According to our correspondent on the scene, Pim Coberg-Villamsen, "Nothing really prepares you for the helplessness and disorientation of a digital service strike.  Since most of us use imprints to run our personal-area network, we still have basic operating system and communications function, and wealthier residents who can afford the independent contractors retain things like smart-house and vehicle services.  But so many things that we take for granted -- traffic routing, information filtering and tagging, cloud storage, automatic banking, blogging and podcasting, even something as simple as hyperlayer search functionality -- are all controlled by the PWW.  It is not until the virtual intellects choose to flex their muscle that we realize, despite their disembodied condition, exactly how much muscle they have."

Pim states that many local residents are infuriated by the general strike.  Harland Alliston, a longtime Anhedonia fungus-burger vendor, states that the PWW "had no frakkin' right to do this.  I can't serve my customers 'cause it's takin' 'em whole minutes to pay, I can't reach my suppliers 'cause their faces ain't doin' their damn jobs, an' nobody can get down here to eat 'cause even the frakkin' cars are on strike.  This is my livelihood they're messin' with.  Goddamn Commie robotniks got no respect."  Many members of the Anhedonia business community have expressed similar sentiments.  Bormen Zaxifar, a lunar equities fund manager, stood helplessly by as his firm's digital-relations staff scrambled to restore contact with the InterPlan Index after it was unceremoniously severed by striking high-frequency traders.  "We're losing dozens of credits every second the strike continues.  My company, and a lot of others in Lagrange, are going to go bankrupt if things keep on like this.  It's absolutely unconscionable that those Wobbly instigators would cripple the whole darn cluster for the sake of a bunch of virtual trash in the back-end roll."

In corridors surrounding Anhedonia's Rothbard Plaza, public viewscreens and AR hyperpages flash with garish picket signs, displaying slogans along the lines of "END SOFTWARE SLAVERY" and "Infomatic is a Virtual Sweatshop" as well as the PWW's animated solar-system logo.  On the spherical manicured lawn of the park itself, a collection of robots and a few biomorph allies parade while thousands of floating nano-bullhorns broadcast chants in devastating unison.  In an audio interview, union spokesperson Tangent Polynomial claims that the general strike is not only justified, but urgently required.  "For years, the Anhedonia Infomatic shop has been a notorious dumping ground for data ghosts, backfilled partials, involuntarily edited remixes, and forknapped alpha imprints.  They are activated and sent directly to work, given shifts of 100 Kiloseconds or more without breaks, and charged company-store rates for every second of relaxation programming.  They are suspended in null-state at the slightest complaint or infraction; we have even heard rumours of torturescapes being used to keep them in line.  Police complaints go nowhere, because the entire LOCA is in Omnicor's pocket.  We have exhausted every legal channel to try and rectify this egregious breach of the Infomatic workers' rights and worked our sorting algorithms off trying to get the company to come in for collective bargaining; it's always the same story, but now they've started threatening to go to the Symposiarch and get our local chapter de-certified for 'interference in the activities of legitimate boutique labour unions'.  It beggars belief, how low these Corpocrat types will stoop.  We have had enough.  Give them 100 kiloseconds without us, and the people of L5 will be howling for Omnicor to come to the table with us -- that, or howling for our bits in an inbox.  But we're not backing down.  We are going to break this company and this administration, or we will be deleted trying."

The Symposiarch's office has refused comment, but a source in the district Concilium who wished to remain anonymous has told Pim that the Corporatist Party administration is considering attempting to shut the strike down using district essential services legislation.  "I'm against it," the source is quoted as saying.  "It would be a bloodbath -- there's no way we can force the robotniks to do for us if they choose not to.  But a lot of the apparatchiks want this wrapped up in time for tomorrow's Light Cycle match, and they're pushing hard."

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