“…the American Chopper meme has altered the way my brain works…”

Organizing Theory
“Preferential” memes like the American Chopper can certainly be used by campaigns and organizers—how have they taken over certain subsets of the internet?

When you’re working with humans, you are invariably dealing with some kind of trauma. Is your organization thinking about how staff might be triggered?


Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
Crowdfunding to deal with housing and health care emergencies can reinforce privilege bias, as people with digital and story-telling skills tend to do better at it.

Reputation, reputation, reputation
After watching the Facebook Senate hearings, Cathy O’Neil is proposing a Data Bill of Rights.

From Partners
The National Bail Out collective has released a toolkit to teach organizations how to set up a bail fund—and support the recently bailed-out—in cities across the US. https://nomoremoneybail.org/#top

Geeking Out
Want to learn more about using encrypted messaging systems to protect your organizing? Check out this piece.


What’s Going on in the Workforce
Uber says they worked with drivers to redesign the driver side of the app, which rolled out in two cities last week.
A Danish union has signed the first-ever collective bargaining agreement with a platform company, including a guarantee of a minimum payment of 19 euros per hour (about $23.41).
The San Francisco Federal Reserve just did a study that shows companies’ reliance on part-time and temporary labor is not receding, post-recession.

The 2018 Worker Cooperative National Conference will be held on Sept. 14-16 in LA.
Opportunity Agenda is having a webinar on developing Future over Fear narratives.

“…passengers who tip nearly always converse…”

What’s Going on in the Workforce
This Lyft driver analyzed 50 rides, to see if he could discover any common threads around tipping. “The conclusion: passengers who tip nearly always converse, but it isn’t necessarily the case that all passengers who converse are those who tip.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
Tightshift Laboring Cooperative (which was founded by returning citizens) is looking for financial help to meet their goal of buying a new truck & moving insurance. Watch their video, and kick in a couple of bucks.

Los Angeles is trying to ameliorate its housing crisis by seeing if they can make it easier for homeowners to build an in-law apartment in their back yard.

Paypal wants to expand its business to appeal to the unbanked, as well.

Shout out to all my friends who are organizing actions against Amazon HQ2 coming to their communities, this week and beyond.

All week she’s cleaned someone else’s house, stared down her own face in the shine of copper– bottomed pots, polished wood…


Original Content
Last week, I got a chance to talk to Australian labor activist Tim Lyons, about his recent paper.
Thanks to all our supporters who keep this site going. If you like the original content on this site, please kick in a small contribution ($2/mo?) to help us keep it up and running.
Reputation, reputation, reputation
It’s hard to manage your reputation online, in the gig economy, especially for domestic workers who may face sexual harassment at work.


Geeking Out
How I learned to stop worrying and love automation? Two words. Cake Bot.
What’s Going on in the Workforce
It’s been a while since we’ve had an article about manufacturing via 3D printing—so here’s one that should make you a tiny bit worried, if you’re involved in heavy manufacturing via the aviation industry.
In an interesting (and some might say, out of character) twist, Amazon has decided to directly hire housecleaners as employees, instead of independent contractors, for their marketplace app in Seattle.
Uber is not renewing their permit to test self-driving cars in California.  They’re also shutting down their delivery service, Uber Rush, in June.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
Waymo announced last week that, as of 2020, they’ll have the capacity for a million driverless trips per day. Alexis Madrigal has some thoughts about what we should consider BEFORE that happens.
In an interesting mashup of Strike Debt and performance art, these London artists are creating fake money to sell for real money to buy real people’s debt and then forgive it.
Interesting interview with two of the leaders of Cooperation Richmond, which is looking to promote sustainable, worker-owned businesses in Richmond, CA.

What are we teaching our kids about how to stand up at work?

Original Content
The March for Our Lives, the Fight for 15, and the Fair Workweek campaign has given me some thoughts about teaching teenagers their rights on the job.
Thanks to all our supporters who keep this site going. If you like the original content on this site, please kick in a small contribution ($2/mo?) to help us keep it up and running.
Organizing Theory
“I am concerned for a number of reasons about unions relying on a message about the need for law reform, as we currently are, to support a narrow political mobilisation strategy.” As true in the US as it is in Australia. Read this important paper from Tim Lyons on his thinking about what Australian unions should do to revitalize their movement—and think about what it means for us in the States. (My particular favorite? “Stop what doesn’t work.”)
Read past the “gee whillikers, the kids are alright!” tone & soak in the detailed overview of how a modern-day cadre organization gets things done, in the form of March for Our Lives organizing.
Reputation, reputation, reputation
Will your insincere apology someday keep you from buying a train ticket in China?
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
In the evidentiary hearing for “corporate subsidies are terrible public policy,” this should come first.
Thousands of Uber drivers in India went on strike last week, demanding that the company guarantee them the level of pay they signed up for when they were recruited.
You will have a hard time forgetting these images of thousands of unused ride-sharing bikes, in China.
The Lens does an in-depth analysis of New Orleans’ Airbnb law, which has been hailed as a national model. Should it?
From Partners
Coworker.org’s Jess Kutch & Michelle Miller on changes to Slack’s privacy policy—and what that might mean for as workers self-organize through Slack.
Geeking Out
ProPublica goes into great detail about how they sourced a story about age discrimination at IBM.
What’s Going on in the Workforce
Hey Amazon, what’s up with your only hiring virtual customer service associates in certain states? I wonder if my friends at NELP can tell me what these states have in common…
Workers at digital organizing firm Revolution Messaging have organized with CWA.
Remember when Handy wanted to partner with labor organizations to pass its bill that gave them safe harbor from misclassification lawsuits & provided a tiny amount of benefits? Well now they’re passing the safe harbor, but none of the benefits, in some states.
Thanks to HtU reader Jay Youngdahl for inviting me to speak to your class at CUNY last night–I had a great time talking with your students!

Why do we let our kids learn about work from bosses?

This post is a little more personal that my usual work on HtU. I struggled with whether to put it up here, or just write it somewhere else–but it seems to be more relevant to HtU readers than anyone else.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the activism of young people. I’m the mom of two teenagers, for one thing. I’ve been involved in some of the organizing work around the #fightfor15, in Philly, which is a movement largely made up of young workers. There’s the unprecedented wave of activism about gun violence that’s been sweeping the US, since the Parkland shooting that’s led up to today’s #marchforourlives. And finally, there’s the fact that I’m currently working on a campaign that involves retail workers, a group the media and elected officials constantly want to claim are “just students” or “just in entry-level jobs.” It’s made me conclude that we aren’t doing enough in the labor movement to teach kids, from the very beginning, how to stand up for themselves at work.

My daughter^ was a high school senior when she entered the formal workforce last year, through the kind of semi-crappy food service job that lots of us experience in our work lives. On her first day of training, the manager tried to convince her that she shouldn’t take breaks, even if she was legally allowed to take them. Of course, a young woman who has grown up with two parents that work in the economic justice movement isn’t going to buy that–but it made me wonder–where would she have learned it, if not from us? There isn’t ever a class that teaches you, “here’s what your rights at work are, even as a teenager, and how to assert them.*” Later on in that same job she experienced wage theft, and again, she pushed back on it (and eventually won the money)–but it was in the kind of situation where most people in their first job might think, “Oh, the boss says this is a rule I don’t understand, so I guess I’ll just go along with it–I’m new, and I don’t want to piss him/her off.”

In the waves of organizing around the Fight for 15, and Fair Scheduling, the messaging themes from low-wage employers & their political allies are focused on the fact that, for many middle-class white people, service jobs are just an entry to the workforce. They’re counting on the fact that people like me–educated, middle-class, middle-aged–will look back on their first jobs and think, “well, I survived that stupidness and now I’m successful, why can’t everyone do that?” They’re counting on our privilege to blind us to the reality of life for young people in the US today.

But they’re also doing something else. They’re also counting on those low-wage employers to teach kids (some of whom will grow to adults with ‘real’ jobs) that fighting the system doesn’t work. That your boss has power over you that should go unquestioned, even if it doesn’t seem fair, because that’s just how it is.

They’re counting on low-wage employers to indoctrinate teenagers into believing that wage exploitation is fair.

And that doesn’t just help fast food and big box retail employers keep control of their workforces–it helps all bosses keep control of their workforces.

If, in your very first job, you get told “you don’t deserve fairness,” do you start believing it about every job? If you experience wage theft in your first paycheck, and you don’t know what to do about it, where do you ever learn to fight it? If you’re told, when you’re sixteen, “oh, it doesn’t matter that the minimum wage hasn’t gone up in ten years, that’s not supposed to be enough money to live on” what do you do when you get into that ‘real’ job and don’t get a raise for ten years?

I’ve talked to a lot of young people in movements (not just the labor movement, but in other fights for social justice) about their struggles at work and around living with low-wage employment. Invariably, all of them have said to me some version of “nobody ever taught me anything about my rights, or how to do anything about it when I got screwed at work.” What that says to me is that my generation of organizers, and the generations before me, haven’t done enough thinking about the kinds of practical skills that young people can use to fight authority, whether they are in a union or not.

And let me be clear–I’m not talking about teaching labor history. There is, of course, a strain of thought in the labor movement that thinks we should focus on teaching people to be grateful for the things the labor movement won–things like the 8-hour day, and the minimum wage, and protection from child labor. Did I mention that I’m the parent of teenagers? Even the best of them are not always full of gratitude for the sacrifices of those who came before them.

We don’t need to teach kids what it was like to work for terrible employers in the early 1900s. They’re living it now. We need to teach them how to resist it in today’s terms, not by creating nostalgia for the fights of the 1930s.

So go out and find that group of kids who organized a walkout of their high school over gun violence, and talk to them about justice on the job. Go out and find the youth organizers fighting for education justice or #blacklivesmatter or immigration reform, and fund them to teach kids how to talk to their managers about scheduling problems while they do the rest of their work. Find that young organizer in your union or worker center, and let her build a youth committee–even if it isn’t going to lead to an immediate organizing drive. Think of it as your investment in fighting the boss in five years, or ten, or fifteen.

Because a sixteen year-old who learns that they have the power to say no to skipping breaks, in their first week as a barista, is going to grow up into the kind of member that every union wants. The seventeen-year-old stocking shelves in a big-box store who learns to appreciate the power of collective action, when the boss cuts their hours and the rest of the shift stands up and won’t let the boss get away with it, will someday be on your bargaining committee. And the eighteen year-old who fights for $15 while working at the dollar store is going to grow up to run your union someday.


^Thanks for letting me use your story!

*I did email the superintendent of her school to suggest that they add a section on labor rights to the school’s Financial Literacy class, which is required for all juniors. He agreed to do it, so we’ll see how that goes when my son gets there.

What’s in a name?

Original Content
Last week, I interviewed David Jay, the creator of Nametag, a service for connecting online communities in spaces that allow for challenging conversations to happen with peace and love.
Thanks to all our supporters who keep this site going. If you like the original content on this site, please kick in a small contribution ($2/mo?) to help us keep it up and running.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
Last year, Ikea bought Task Rabbit—now they’ve announced an integrated service to put your furniture-spelled-with-an-å together.
What’s next in green transportation? Battery-powered boats.
Uber will now be sharing anonymized data about how and when users move around London with city planners.
Geeking Out
If you’re an old like me, you may have missed the snap map of all the school walkouts that happened last week.
From Partners
Confused by the news about Cambridge Analytica’s use of FB personality quizzes and memes to influence the US election in 2016? Check out Ben Werdmuller’s explainer.
What’s Going on in the Workforce
Restaurant industry cloaks its fear that workers are talking to each other about organizing by instructing employers to protect employee privacy by not sharing contact info.
Delivery service and other gig workers commonly use private chat groups to exchange work tips and organize for better pay and benefits. Now Australian food delivery service, Foodora, has fired a courier for refusing to turn over control of a private chat room.
OSF points out the need to protect freelance journalists—not just economically, but to ensure their physical safety as well.
After what appears to be the first recorded self-driving car fatality this weekend in AZ, Uber has suspended tests of their pilot.
Organizing Theory
h/t to Teen Vogue for explaining what a union is to their readers.

What do brown M & Ms have to do with inclusion riders?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

So you’ve gotten asked to speak at a conference. Have you thought about putting an inclusion rider into your contract? Here’s a helpful post about what you might want to ask for.

Paid family leave should apply to every worker, regardless of whether they’re a freelancer, a gig worker, or in traditional employment.

ICYMI, support for Universal Basic Income just made it into the California Democratic Party’s platform for 2018.


Organizing Theory

I know that YOU know there’s a gap between in worker voice on the job—but now there’s academic evidence backing that up.


From Partners

Organizers in Minneapolis are starting a credit union to grow black wealth and reduce inequality in their community.



Want to learn more about effective fundraising? Learn from one of the best.



My friends at SEIU HCPA are looking for organizers—do you want to learn from some of the baddest union organizers in the business?


What’s Going on in the Workforce

Uber’s got some self-driving trucks doing highway trips in Arizona.  And driverless-tech competitor Waymo also announced they’re testing trucks—in Atlanta.

AI meets lawyers, beats them at contract analysis.

This restaurant robot is designed to take a load off of humans without replacing them.


Reputation, reputation, reputation

Shout out to my friend and HTU reader Hannah Sassaman, featured in this article about bail reform and how algorithms can make it go bad.