Research: how do union activists use new technologies?

I am interested in finding out how trade union activists are using the Internet, new technologies and social media for union organising.

Are you creating Facebook groups?  Using twitter hashtags to raise awareness about critical issues? Signing LabourStart action alerts?

Are you creating YouTube videos? Using email lists, blogs and wikis?

What works best? What does ICT bring to union organising? Are we seeing the birth of a new unionism, fluid, decentralised and devolved? Are horizontal networks building grassroots solidarity among activists, and circumventing the need to go through rigid power structures?

Or are unions using ICTs for one way communication, reinforcing a relationship with members that is sometimes hierarchical and bureaucratic?

What about new groups of workers? The trade union heartlands in the manufacturing and public sectors have declined over a generation of neoliberal attacks; new sectors are being created, often offering low paid jobs with little security and little history of union activism. Can ICTs reach workers in call centres, agencies, retail and catering? How?

Many of these new sectors are staffed by workers who are under represented in the trade union movement: young people, women, ethnic minorities, migrant workers. Can ICTs help to organise them? Does social media give a voice to marginalised groups of workers?

What should the trade union movement’s priority be: should we get off the ‘Net and back into the workplace, or should we use technology to add value to traditional organising campaigns? Do we need to train our reps to use social media to organise?

Should we be promoting Open Source software, and campaigning for a free and open Internet, a global Commons?

If you have a view on any of this, I would be very  happy to hear it. Either use the comments field below, or contact me directly.

Please also take the survey, and let me know how you are using technology. I’ll post the results of any research on this site: let’s build a community of practice, and use technology to revitalise our unions from the bottom up.

I am interested in finding out how trade union activists are using the Internet, new technologies and social media for union organising.

Are you creating Facebook groups?  Using twitter hashtags to raise awareness about critical issues? Signing LabourStart action alerts?

Are you creating YouTube videos? Using email lists, blogs and wikis?

What works best? What does ICT bring to union organising? Are we seeing the birth of a new unionism, fluid, decentralised and devolved? Are horizontal networks building grassroots solidarity among activists, and circumventing the need to go through rigid power structures?

Or are unions using ICTs for one way communication, reinforcing a relationship with members that is sometimes hierarchical and bureaucratic?

What about new groups of workers? The trade union heartlands in the manufacturing and public sectors have declined over a generation of neoliberal attacks; new sectors are being created, often offering low paid jobs with little security and little history of union activism. Can ICTs reach workers in call centres, agencies, retail and catering? How?

Many of these new sectors are staffed by workers who are under represented in the trade union movement: young people, women, ethnic minorities, migrant workers. Can ICTs help to organise them? Does social media give a voice to marginalised groups of workers?

What should the trade union movement’s priority be: should we get off the ‘Net and back into the workplace, or should we use technology to add value to traditional organising campaigns? Do we need to train our reps to use social media to organise?

Should we be promoting Open Source software, and campaigning for a free and open Internet, a global Commons?

If you have a view on any of this, I would be very  happy to hear it. Either use the comments field below, or contact me directly.

Please also take the survey, and let me know how you are using technology. I’ll post the results of any research on this site: let’s build a community of practice, and use technology to revitalise our unions from the bottom up.

2 thoughts on “Research: how do union activists use new technologies?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *