Coworker

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= "a global platform for individuals or groups of employees to launch, join and win campaigns to improve their jobs and workplaces".

URL = https://www.coworker.org/


Description

1.

"Coworker.org is a global platform to advance change in the workplace. Our technology makes it easy for individuals or groups of employees to launch, join and win campaigns to improve their jobs and workplaces. Coworker.org is a non-profit organization fiscally sponsored by the New Venture Fund.

Hundreds of thousands of people have joined Coworker.org efforts, and employees are winning important changes at work — a few recent examples can be found here." (http://about.coworker.org/)


2. SARAH KESSLER:

"About three years ago, Michelle Miller, who had worked with traditional labor movements for years, began to notice a pattern of spikes in attention like the one around the Amazon Turk letter-writing campaign. "A group would form around an issue for a couple of weeks," she says. "There would be some excitement, some media coverage of the issue the workers were talking about, and then it would either be resolved or it wouldn’t be, and everything would sort of dissipate back to the way it was."

Her answer was, a platform where workers can, like on Change.org, organize petitions, but with one major difference: The communities build not just around specific issues, but around virtual and analog workplaces. Once someone self-identifies as an employee of a company, Coworker keeps them updated about new campaigns within that company. Miller says, for instance, the site has signed up more than 17,000 Starbucks employees through various campaigns.

So far, most of the campaigns are among non-gig economy laborers. Those Starbucks employees used it, for instance, to campaign for the coffee company to change its policy banning visible tattoos (it eventually did so). It has promise to be useful to gig economy workers, as well. The California App-based Drivers Association (CADA) has used the platform to create a campaign that asks Uber to add an automatic tip calculation to all of its fares.

Of course, independent contractors are not protected under the National Labor Relations Act. Without traditional union protections, there's no law stopping Uber from just firing anyone who participates." (http://www.fastcompany.com/3042081/what-does-a-union-look-like-in-the-gig-economy)


3. Nate Matias:

"Michelle Miller: Coworker.org

Michelle Miller and her co-founders at Coworker.org were looking for ways to help people who wanted to organize to build power in their workplaces, even if they didn't go so far as starting a union. People were organizing on Reddit or creating Change.org threads, asserting ideas for changing their workplaces. These ideas might be invisible to traditional labor organizers and create one-time campaigns that their coworkers cared about. But even after they won campaigns, they didn't have the infrastructure to keep those networks going for longer term systemic change. With Coworker.org, they offer infrastructure and expertise to support people to create "global, decentralized networks" to build and shift power within major companies.

Over 3 years, they've supported efforts by American Airlines employees, Starbucks baristas, Wells Fargo tellers, and many others to build power in their company. Michelle tells us the story about Kristy, a Starbucks employee who was had to put bandage over her tattoo due to a company policy against visibles tattoos. After Kristy created her campaign on Coworkers.org, thousands of other baristas joined. So they called her up and asked, "how can we help you" rather than telling them what to do. Kristy had noticed that people were telling their stories and photographing their tattoos. Workers used a hashtag to find each other and share their tats. When it came time to talk to the media, Coworkers.org helped the employees form a committee of 20 people to talk to the media. Within just a few months, 15,000 baristas from 17 countries had joined the campaign, and the company responded to reconsider its tattoo policies and raise wages.

What matters is what happened after this campaign. Michelle argues that participation in things like coworkers.org offers experiential learning in advocacy. Coworkers.org continued to engage with the baristas, seeing the network grow to around 24,000 baristas who subscribe to their barista newsletter and occasionally develop new campaigns." (https://civic.mit.edu/blog/natematias/organizing-labor-in-platform-economies-platform-cooperativism-conference)

More information

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