It has been three weeks since Ryan Grim wrote a story for the Intercept about the chaos that has engulfed progressive advocacy groups over the past few years. An unnamed leader of one of these groups told Grim, “So much energy has been devoted to the internal strife and internal bulls**t that it’s had a real impact on the ability for groups to deliver.”
It makes perfect sense that this is happening inside progressive groups, which already appeal to left-wing activists types eager to change the world. But it’s happening other places as well, including newsrooms like the NY Times and the Washington Post. It’s even happening at businesses which, ostensibly, aren’t connected to politics.
Last week, a male employee at Universal Music Group named Michael Lopez was fired after announcing he couldn’t do his job because he needed time to mourn the passing of Roe v Wade. Lopez wrote about what led up to it on LinkedIn which suggests he somehow thought if he explained this to other potential employers it would help his future prospects. (The LinkedIn link was working but now appears to be down. Maybe Lopez realized his woke whining was backfiring on him?)
Last Friday, like countless other folks, I was devastated by the news of the supreme court’s attack on abortion rights. Paired with the flood of anti-queer and anti-trans legislation, it’s been hard to process how company’s expect us to be productive while our rights are being stripped away. Especially when our company has been donating to several of these politicians (link in comments).
Every Friday, one of my tasks was to process reports for upcoming releases. This is an email list that goes out to 275 people. I don’t know who’s on it, I just knew it was the email list with the most people that I had access to. So I sent the following message:
Subject line: UMe Schedules
I didn’t do them today.
I’m in mourning due to the attack on people with uteruses in the US. Federally guaranteed access to abortion is gone.
Vivendi and Universal Music Group must stop donating to anti-abortion, anti-queer and anti-trans politicians. Politicians like Marsha Blackburn, Ken Buck, Victoria Spartz, etc. Or expect more unproductive days.
Yours in fury,
Lopez said he got some supportive responses but by the following Monday he got a Zoom call from HR telling him he was fired. Naturally, he couldn’t let it go but used his final hour as an employee to send another note to the email list of 275 people complaining that a “brown queer person” was being fired during Pride month.
Around 9:30-ish today, I got a surprise Zoom video chat with HR. I was being let go for (paraphrasing) “Not doing your job, disrupting the day of 275 people and poor judgement.” I was told to log out and that a courier would be there to pick up my laptop from my apartment within the hour.
Anticipating that I’d get shut out of my computer very soon, I sent a follow up to the email list:
Just got fired for this email from Friday, so they’re letting you know where they stand on employees speaking out on politicians that support marginalization for folks like me.
A brown queer person terminated during Pride month speaking in support of abortion rights. Seems like that’s exactly what America is all about right now.
The NY Post has a story up about Lopez. They spoke to UMG about his firing and got this response from a spokesperson: “As a matter of policy, we can’t discuss an individual’s personnel record. We can say that what was posted on social media is inaccurate.” How was it inaccurate? They don’t really say. The Post does note that some of the commenters at LinkedIn weren’t on Lopez’ side:
One LinkedIn user called Lopez “entitled, lazy, and obviously ignorant,” writing: “Yeah this is pretty pathetic…You a grown man pretending to have ‘grief’ so unbelievably unbearable over something that will never affect you in any way that you can’t perform a simple task at work.”
Another LinkedIn commenter wrote: “If you just sent the report like they asked every Friday… would you have lost your job? Most likely no.”
The commenter added: “You didn’t lose your job based on your color or sexual orientation so please stop thinking that. Your actions are childish cause for termination.”
In this case I think UMG probably got off easy. If Lopez had been smarter he would have kept doing his job while quietly trying to rally like-minded employees to his cause. Then, once he had 30 or 40 people who were upset enough to write a group letter he could have presented it to HR. It’s relatively easy to fire one woke employee who refuses to do his job and misuses his internal email. It would be much harder to deal with 30-40 employees who are making demands but are still doing their jobs and aren’t misusing company resources.