Tag Archives: digital organizing


New Labor Forum Highlights: June 10th, 2019

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

In the current issue of New Labor Forum , columnist Sarah Jaffe covers a very bright spot in the contemporary labor movement: the impressive union organizing taking place at digital media outlets around the country. Beginning in 2010 with Truthout, the first digital newsroom to organize, then since 2015, a wave of unionization has taken place at outlets that include: Gawker, The Onion, The Dodo, Gizmodo Media Group, HuffPost, Mic.com, Thrillist, Mic, Jacobin, Fast Company, The Onion, BuzzFeed, Vox Media, Slate, Salon, the Intercept, MTV News, and the fashion site Refinery29.

Campaigns with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America (CWA) have been led largely by millenials and, as Steven Greenhouse reports in an article in NiemanLab included here, have focused on raising abysmal starting wages, improving benefits packages, and protecting workers from the precarity that characterizes the industry. And according to TeenVogue columnist Kim Kelly − who figures in Jaffe’s and Greenhouse’s reporting and spoke at a CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies forum – collective bargaining at these media outlets has also begun to make strides toward improving workplace culture and bringing about “the world we think we want.” New digital media union members continue to experiment with their own feisty and innovative organizing to secure labor contracts. For instance, just last Thursday at Vox Media, approximately 300 workers stayed out of work to pressure the company to settle a contract that’s been in negotiation since April of last year. The dearth of fresh content to post left the company high and dry for the day and seems likely to spur a settlement.

Table of Contents
  1. The Labor Movement Comes to Virtual Reality: Unionizing Digital Media/ Sarah Jaffe,New Labor Forum
  2. Why are digital newsrooms unionizing now?/ Steven Greenhouse, Nieman Lab
  3. The Next Generation: Young Workers Building Movements/ The Murphy Institute, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

Photo by lizsmith via flickr (cc-by-nc-nd)

The Future of Labor Organizing: There’s an App for That?

In a new report on virtual labor organizing by Mark Zuckerman, Richard D. Kahlenberg, and Moshe Z. Marvit,  the authors suggest that the labor movement could grow through use of online organizing tools, and the NLRB would support such innovations. The report has implications for popular organizing models unions use now, which often involve developing or bringing in teams of organizers for face-to-face conversations. Could online tools augment that work? Replace it?

From the report, Virtual Labor Organizing: Could Technology Help Reduce Income Inequality?:

In an era of persistent income inequality, virtual organizing may provide an opportunity to lift the lifetime earnings of hardworking Americans.

The creation of [a] platform, in and of itself, could give employees surprising new leverage at work, once the company understands that dissatisfied employees have an easier, less-obstructed way to join a union.

If virtual organizing took hold, it also could transform the way in which the nation’s top labor unions deploy their organizing capabilities. Rather than just engaging in resource-intensive retail organizing, they could become wholesalers of union formation, investing in large-scale promotion of an online resource, backed by call-centers and a significant network architecture standing behind this powerful new tool.

The American worker certainly needs help to reclaim the benefits of the legal right to organize. Wages and salaries—once over 50 percent of GDP have now slid to 42.6 percent, the lowest since 1929. This disastrous decline in prosperity needs to be disrupted. Recent economic, political, and legal trends—as well as the surging use of technology—may provide workers a way forward through virtual labor organizing.

The full report is available here.

What do you think? How could a new virtual platform change the face of labor organizing?

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