UnionBook is the social network for trade unionists. It has been around for some time, but hasn’t really achieved critical mass. It currently has around 4,000 members, and unless it reaches 5,000 by September, it will be shut down.
So what’s the point of a niche, union-focused social network in an already crowded landscape? In addition to the ubiquitous and iniquitous Facebook, we also have Google+ and Diaspora vying for our attention. Do we really need UnionBook?
Personally, I find it very useful. Because its focus is so narrow, if you visit the site to find out what’s happening with unions around the world, there are no distractions. You can also make great connections, as 4,000 of the world’s most committed and enthusiastic trade unionists use the site.
Leading industrial relations academics such as Peter Waterman use UnionBook. Waterman is the original cyberunionist, who published the seminal International Labour Communication by Computer: The Fifth International? (pdf) back in 1992. I found UnionBook very valuable when I was conducting research because of the ability it gave me to find and contact prominent trade unionists active in the fields I was interested in.
There are also groups dedicated to everything from trade union songs and education, to Social Network Unionism, which is one of the most vibrant groups.
For me, UnionBook is more than a social network. It is a very useful trade union ideas repository and debating platform. If this sounds like it’s for you, do take a look.