“My belief is that ‘union 2.0’ will be a platform, more than an organization…”

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

“My belief is that ‘union 2.0’ will be a platform, more than an organization, and its power will derive from the data leverage it’s able to attain over the platforms that employ its workers.” Nick Grossman has some interesting ideas about how to source the sharing economy—with venture capital, or community capital? Or maybe both?

The Standing O wants to be the Spotify that pays its artists (& songwriters!) fairly. Check out their video about why they pay songwriters and artists per play, on their new music streaming service.

Can you pick up where the math leaves off? Harvard Biz Review thinks that augmentation will be the next wave of humanity’s employable future.

Organizing Theory

As a union organizer, I have known some workers with interesting workplace issues. But this one kind of takes the cake.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

“People have a really hard time articulating their feelings. And sometimes there is a subtle fleeting little emotion that people aren’t even aware is happening.” Good thing we’ve got ad companies using facial recognition software, so we can see how we really feel about their ads.

“…a computer model with 250 “likes” (to compare) is better than your own wife or husband at judging your personality.” What can a kind of algorithm I can’t even spell figure out about you from your FB profile? And who is that information useful to? Check out this new video to find out.

Geeking Out

One step beyond making campaign finance data more accessible? Getting it in the hands of journalists that can use it to make public the connections between money & legislative votes. Kick in to this Kickstarter.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…a bossless organization is a burden of itself.” But these Turkish textile workers wouldn’t go back to a non-coop life, after occupying their plant when the owners left them jobless.

Don’t buy face wash with little floating things in it. If you need to know why, watch this.

“I could be in control of my life.”

Original Content

Do you like the stuff that gets posted in this section? Wish there was more of it? Guess what—you can help make that happen, either by supporting us monthly through Patreon, or one time with Indegogo!

And if you haven’t heard it yet—last week, friends-o-the-blog Sarah Jaffe & Meshell Chen had me on their weekly podcast, Belabored, to talk about why the labor movement should support Universal Basic Income.  BTW, hello new readers! It’s so lovely to meet all of you!

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“I could be in control of my life.” Laura Flanders from GRITtv takes a look at the success of the New Era Windows cooperative, 3 years after workers occupied their plant in Chicago.

Some urban neighbors already trade books informally through free libraries—this effort in Geneva lets neighbors share other kinds of stuff, through a neighborhood exchange box.

Santa Monica just put a dent into AirBnB’s business there, by banning short-term rentals of full units for anything less than 30 days.

From Partners

In NYC and want to learn more about UBI? Go listen to another FOB, Natalie Foster, at Civic Hall next week.

Organizing Theory

Live-streaming has been a powerful tool in the activist toolbox since at least 2011. But as live-streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat make it even more accessible, this activist wonders how we can better use it to promote justice.

Geeking Out

This week’s new favorite tumblr…hi-tech jobs drawn as characters from a children’s book…welcome to Business Town!

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

“There are a growing number of observers who do not fear or hate technology but fear the negative effects technology can have on the individual and society if used inappropriately.” Preach, brother.

Public officials are teaming up with local unions to help driving organizing wins in Silicon Valley & the Bay Area.

If self-driving cars destroy the jobs of almost six million drivers, but save the rest of us over $1 trillion (because we no longer need to own a car), what’s the net cost or benefit to our economy?  Blogger Scott Santens recently looked at this very issue, and uses it as another example of why we’re going to need Basic Income sooner, rather than later.

Can I get a robot to sell me another robot? Yes, but (so far) only in Palo Alto.

The Open Society Institute has launched a new Future of Work website, where you can see links to all their commissioned research.  It includes this awesome map of 95 future of work projects.

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“Automate or perish”…or maybe there’s a third way?

Original Content
Do you like the stuff that gets posted in this section? Wish there was more of it? Guess what—you can help make that happen, either by supporting us monthly through Patreon, or one time with Indegogo! And thanks to all of you who have supported us so far.
What’s Going on in the Workforce?
“Automate or perish” Perhaps there’s a third option? The job of deboning chickens does seem like it would be advantaged by machines—but surely there’s still some role for human butchers to play?
If I’d had more coffee, I could probably think of a pithier joke. But honestly, banks need to rent robot suits, because their employees can’t carry all the money? I’m not sure there’s a better use for the #firstworldproblems hashtag.
Reputation, reputation, reputation
Well OF COURSE I want the maker of my car to provide Amazon with my location, so they can deliver to me by drone. No, wait…
It’s one thing to let your boss track your movements while you’re at work—lots of workers have to put up with that. It’s a wrong thing, but it is a thing. But getting fired because you wouldn’t let them track you 24/7? That’s a #bossfail.
Organizing Theory
If you’re a social media campaigner, you probably have fought in a hashtag war, at some point. (@banditelli, I’m looking at you!) But what’s the value of a hashtag campaign?  On a related note, new service Protestify aims to help citizen journalists get paid for photos they take that get picked up by the MSM, using the hashtag #protestify.
Podemos seems to have made the world’s first hologram protest. No, really.
From Partners
In NYC? Why not check out the Workers Unite Film Festival? Now through May 27th.

“We hit our goals! We lost…but we hit our goals!”

Original Content
This week’s original content was not preserved for posterity…but a big HtU thank you to all the folks who participated in last Friday’s video chat on Universal Basic Income: Meshell Chen, Alex Denny, Stephan Edel, Ryan Johnson & Joseph Phelan.
Do you like the stuff that gets posted in this section? Wish there was more of it? Guess what—you can help make that happen, either by supporting us monthly through Patreon, or one time with Indegogo!
Organizing Theory
“We hit our goals! We lost… but we hit our goals!” If this sounds familiar, maybe you’re measuring the wrong things.
Reputation, reputation, reputation
Lots of people post tweets with pictures. Sometimes, those tweets get retweeted. Other times, the pictures are used in completely out-of-context ways. How can you tell the difference?
Did you post your picture to that new Microsoft site, How Old? If you did, did you mean to give them permission to use your photographs in advertising?
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
Worker coop advocates in California are supporting a bill to make it easier to form coops in that state, in part to fight against income inequality.. .
Would you buy a t-shirt for $2.25, if it made you watch a video about textile factories first?
Geeking Out
You don’t know what you need to know about artificial intelligence of the future? Read this. Amazing.
The slow death of the one-hour photo processing lab.
What’s Going on in the Workforce?
As more cities and states raise their minimum wage requirements, one author wonders—how much does that wage growth impact other low-wage workers?
What ethical challenges does drone journalism spark, and who if anyone is training new journalists to think about them?

Now, with music for the robot apocalypse…

Original Content
Don’t forget–this week we’ll be featuring a special May Day chat on Universal Basic Income (2 pm Eastern on Friday, May 1–ping me if you want to be involved).

Do you like the stuff that gets posted in this section? Wish there was more of it? Guess what—you can help make that happen!
Geeking Out
You didn’t know you needed it, but you were desperate for it. Music for the Robot Apocalypse, by NPR’s alt.latino radio. h/t to Nadia Hewka for sending this my way…
What’s Going on in the Workforce?
Julia Carrie Wong takes a ridealong with a Postmates courier.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
What happens when a sharing economy company decides to pay its employees as, well, employees and not contractors?
Are cab drivers turning to worker-owned coops, instead of Uber?
Reputation, reputation, reputation
“The only thing you need to do is take your phone to places, and we can learn that the phone stopped at this place and then it moved and then it stopped at this place and then it moved and then it stopped at this place.” Are you creeped out by this statement from Foursquare’s founder? What if you knew they were going to use that info for better ads?
Organizing Theory
Is it difficult to find good digital organizing talent? Perhaps you’re not looking in the right places.
Advocating for domestic workers to get required time off is important, but shaming working moms for not knowing their children well might not be the best way to get there.
From Partners
The EARN network took a look at the Future of Work. Here are some of their findings. h/t to Steve Hertzenberg for sharing that with me…

Hack the Union is pro-capitalist. Well, at least this one…

Original Content
We don’t have any this week…if only you’d pledge!
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
There are very few capitalists who will ever be featured on this blog in a positive way. But this guy gets a shout out, for not only raising the base pay at his company for every worker to $70K per year, but for doing it by cutting his own salary down to that much, too.  And if that’s not cool enough—he apparently decided to do it after he read this paper. Wonks of the world, rejoice!
How one British guy built a website to allow workers in the gig economy to have their employment rights protected—and for the British government to be able to collect taxes from itinerant employers.
Thinking about converting a business to a worker-owned coop? Here are some good case studies of businesses that successfully did just that.
Organizing Theory
Social giving is waxing, and email is waning, as a method for non-profits to generate support, according to this new report.
I wonder what lessons about supporter engagement non-profit campaigns could learn from the ways that for-profit companies use referral programs?
Geeking Out
If you wonder what a world without net neutrality would look like, look no further than India, where Facebook is running an experiment in providing free data to the poor. But guess what company’s websites are most featured?
Can you patent a system for developing a personality? Apparently you can, if you’re Google. Too bad I didn’t know that when my kids were younger.
What’s Going on in the Workforce?
McDonald’s orders more touchscreens, to take orders in the EU.  And while we’re on the topic of robotic service workers, meet the machine that might pour your next beer.

“Anything that becomes digital can eventually get exploited.”

Original Content
Do you like the stuff that gets posted in this section? Wish there was more of it? Guess what—you can help make that happen!
And on that note—Douglas Williams had a new post, last week, about the need to be very specific, when making campaign demands.
What’s Going on in the Workforce?
“Anything that becomes digital can eventually get exploited.” Transcript of an interesting talk by Trebor Schulz about the alienating effects of digital labor.
Chinese factory owners are investing in automation…and not really talking about what that will mean for the workers whose jobs are displaced.
As someone who is plagued by “rolling” veins, this automation fills me with hope. On the other hand, I’m worried about my phlebotomist friends’ future employability.
Geeking Out
I know, you’ve often thought “the government needs hacking.” Surprisingly, the ROI of hacking your government can be three times what you put into it.
I guess if the government can’t figure out a way to track police violence, the rest of us are going to have to do it. Here are two efforts at doing just that.
I’m taking my kids to Japan this summer. What are the odds I can convince them to stay in a robot-only hotel?
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
Redditors have declared May 1st to be a day of action in support of Universal Basic Income.  We’ll be doing a google hangout that day, to talk about it—especially this article in Vox about how a GOP presidential candidate seems to support it!  Ping me, if you want info about the Hangout.
Organizing Theory
The US electorate is going to get less white, between 2012 and 2016 (and even after that!). How are campaigns changing their targeting tactics?
Is it possible to reform government through breaking down the units of participation into smaller chunks? Tim O’Reilly has some interesting thoughts about that. I think we’d all support fewer 3,000 page bills…
From Partners
Have you thought about running a hackathon to solve a community problem through code, but are not sure how to do it? Greenpeace has some helpful tips.

A List of Demands? Why “making it plain” is key for movement success.

In the course of my duties as a PhD student here at the University of Alabama, I have had to teach Public Administration. It is not a fun class; the books on the subject are often reactionary in ideology, the material itself is dry, and the specificities of government infrastructure is a bit much for my 200-level students to handle. As most undergrad political science majors do, they want to talk about elections. They want to talk about social movements. They want to talk about the exciting stuff that they see all the powerful people do on MSNBC or FOX or House of Cards.

In that sense, they are no different from their older counterparts. After all, no one is talking about the state legislative races that will determine most of the policies that affect American lives daily; rather we get 24-7 coverage of a presidential race that does not have its first primary contest for another nine months. Yet both groups of people should realize that activism and frontline politics is but one side of the coin; policy and administration is the other.

The Occupy movement took off right as I was entering my PhD program. It was a sight to behold, and the way in which it transformed American political dialogue is something that we will be grappling with for a long time. It used to be that poverty and inequality were framed as personal failings, things that only a hard work ethic can fix. Now you have elected officials like U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) releasing plans for combatting poverty (horrible as they might be) and the same Barack Obama who chastised parents on the campaign trail in 2008 for “getting that cold Popeyes out for breakfast” to feed their children would introduce a program six years later (flawed as that was also) that would dedicate resources to young Black men in urban areas for education.

Yet amidst all the plans and the discussion, we have seen very little in the way of concrete measures aimed at redistributing wealth and closing inequalities. And if you peruse the website of the NYC General Assembly, the organization that kicked off the Occupy movement, it is hard to find anything in the realm of concrete demands. The closest that you will come is their Principles of Solidarity, which is less a list of demands than it is a loose statement of ideologies that underpin the movement. And good luck wading through the fifty documents under the Demands tag, which appear to be little more than minutes from a committee meeting.

As easy as it may be to pin this solely on Occupy, it is not limited to just them. The most concrete proposals to come out of the police slayings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner last summer are to fit every police officer with a body camera. That seems like a good idea until you remember that Eric Garner’s murder was captured on film, in addition to the fact that he was killed in broad daylight on a busy street corner in Staten Island. The rest of the demands from assorted groups are no less ephemeral than Occupy: truth and reconciliation commissions (typically done after any hope for justice is lost, since no one who has been involved in police brutality would ever forgo their right against self-incrimination), Congressional hearings into police abuse (to what end, no one is particularly sure), and more effective community oversight (with a civilian review board? a streamlined complaint system?). One list of demands even calls for President Obama’s administration to “develop, legislate, and enact” a “National Plan For Racial Justice”. Aside from the fact that the President cannot legislate anything, the details of such a plan are largely left to the imagination.

Given all this, it is little wonder why we have not seen any movement on these issues legislatively or administratively.

The opposite side of that coin, of course, is the Fight For 15 movement. What are the demands of this movement? Well, it is right there in the title: fast-food workers are fighting for a minimum wage of $15 per hour, which would bring some of America’s most vulnerable members of the working class to a living wage in most areas of the country. While fast-food workers demanding such a wage would have been thought laughable just a few years ago, the movement has scored successes in Seattle and San Francisco, and Portland, OR has raised its minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour. Even by those standards, the movement would have been considered one of the more successful ones initiated by the working class and their allied organizations (labor unions such as SEIU have greatly assisted in the Fight For 15 effort) in the last generation.

But it did not stop there. The 2014 elections saw minimum wage increases on the ballots in several states, and some of the ones that voted Yes may surprise you: Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota are on no one’s list of most labor-friendly political environments, and yet those states all voted to increase the minimum wage by substantial margins. In fact, the victories in these states were probably the only highlight in an election that saw Republicans win eleven more state legislative chambers and take back the U.S. Senate. The issue also featured prominently in the last dash to the polls in Chicago’s just-concluded mayoral election, where challenger and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has come out in favor of a $15 minimum wage for employees of the city’s public school system, which has been decimated by budget cuts and closings under Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

And as the movement’s day of national action on April 15th draws closer, it has become clear that this is a fight that will endure for quite some time.

There are many factors that go into organizing on different issues, and I am not trying to make the case that there are tight parallels between organizing around law enforcement issues and doing the same with regards to the economy. But Occupy and the protests of police violence have failed to “make it plain” and give people something that they can take into their communities and begin mobilizing for social change. That has to change if we are to see the working class build enough power to dismantle the structures that holds progress back.

“…at the end of the day, it’s all just organizing.”

Original Content

Do you like the stuff that gets posted in this section? Wish there was more of it? Guess what—you can help make that happen!

And on that note—Douglas Williams had a new post, last week, about federalism and labor’s political priorities.

Organizing Theory
Can we make people care more about inequality? Apparently we can, though mostly it just makes them want to raise the minimum wage.
“…at the end of the day, it’s all just organizing.” How smaller activist groups can build a digital profile that rivals big ones, in terms of member engagement.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
I mean, come on. You know you haven’t read enough counterfactual analysis about the economic value of the sharing economy yet.
Is it the sharing economy? or the shut-in economy? or maybe even, the shut-out economy?
Reputation, reputation, reputation
It’s fair to say that most of us will probably want to be able to Skype with the grandchildren, if we end up living in a nursing home. But what are the implications of video-enabled cameras for workers? or other residents?
Geeking Out
Here’s a pretty cool tool that some Brits put together, to monitor the kinds of leaflets that are being created during electoral campaigns, across the whole spectrum of political opinion.
While I’m geeking out about things from the Emerald Isle, here’s a story about an exhibit featuring items from various protest movements that sounds pretty cool.
What’s Going on in the Workforce?
Amazon sponsors contest to create robots that can replace more of the humans in their warehouses.

Periscope vs. Meerkat: What’s an organizer to choose?

Periscope vs. Meerkat: Which is better for organizers who want to live-stream actions or other events?