“To have democracy in our society, we must have democracy in our economy.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“To have democracy in our society, we must have democracy in our economy.” Why union coops are spreading in the EU and the US.

Here’s an innovative idea for dealing with exorbitant student debt: the Salish Sea Cooperative is refinancing high interest student loans and returning the savings to their members.

It’s not okay to “share” the parking rights to a public parking space—but this new British service wants to help you rent out your driveway.

London is running out of room…so it’s developing waterfront—and water-based—housing options.

Organizing Theory

Micah Sifry on what has—and hasn’t—changed in politics, after a decade of online organizing.

Do you have a website that’s optimized for search? If you want to keep it that way, you’re going to want to transition for HTTPS, as Google announces that they’re changing (slowly) their search algorithms.

Justin Ruben (formerly of MoveOn) has been thinking about how progressive organizations can learn to scale up, from 12-step movements.

Geeking Out

If the robots are coming, how many of us will they accidentally kill, before they reach perfection?

Do you wish you understood more about how computers work within networks? Quinn Norton’s got you covered.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

Yeah, wearable computers that let your boss know when you need a break. That couldn’t possibly go wrong, could it? And while we’re on the topic of tech that many of us would be uncomfortable with, at work—I introduce you to Moodhacker.

No longer just a fancy costume for a Matt Damon movie…Japan tests robotic exoskeleton for shipyard workers.

Final Thoughts

“Levying additional taxes involves a simple principle: go where the money is. Since money has been increasingly going to the top, that’s where additional tax revenues have to come from. It’s really that simple. It used to be said that the top didn’t have enough money to fill the hole in the deficit; but that’s becoming less and less true. With those in the top 1 percent getting more than 20 percent of the nation’s income, an incremental 10 percent tax on their income (without loopholes) would generate revenues equal to some 2 percent of the nation’s GDP.”

Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality 

“It’s not terribly uplifting to think that the future of labor is delivering stuff to rich people.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

“It’s not terribly uplifting to think that the future of labor is delivering stuff to rich people.” On the “new” kinds of workers, in our new economy.

Read the public testimony of four co-op owner/workers who testified before New York City Council, and eventually helped to win an historic $1.2M investment in co-op development.

1,000 units of robot bartender that let you order a drink from across the room, or put a tiki bar in your restaurant, now on order. 

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

If your gig in the gig economy involves international travel, it could also involve free housing with this new service.

Guerrilla gardening is one way to build a more sustainable world—even in Guantanamo.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

In France, you can be sued for posting a bad review that damages a business online. In the UK, the business might go under, instead.

A fascinating infographic about what Americans believe whether social media networks can be trusted with their private information.

Organizing Theory

Online voter reg tool TurboVote has just partnered with 27 colleges & universities in Florida, to increase civic engagement among young, particularly first-time, voters.

Final Thoughts

“The language of money is a powerful tool, and it is also a tool of power. Incomprehension is a form of consent. If we allow ourselves not to understand this language, we are signing off on the way the world works today—in particular, we are signing off on the prospect of an ever-widening gap between the rich and everyone else, a world in which everything about your life is determined by the accident of who your parents are. Those of us who are interested in stopping that from happening need to learn how to measure the Nile for ourselves.”

“Money Talks,” John Lancaster, New Yorker August 4, 2014

“…a capacity for greed that would make Gordon Gecko blush…”

Original Content

I recently talked to Michelle Miller & Jess Kutch from coworker.org about their efforts to create an online organizing and leadership development tool for workers. Watch the video here.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

“…a capacity for greed that would make Gordon Gecko blush…” How much do you know about the history of tipping? Not enough, I’m guessing.

Sarah Jaffe takes a look at how TaskRabbit’s new algorithm for matching “Taskers” with folks looking for gigs on the site is remarkably akin to good old fashioned piece work.

The rules for creating worker-owned co-ops are different in every US state. Shareable has a great post about how to find out what the laws are in yours.

Curious to know if you might fit into the corporate culture of a company? There’s an app for that. Good.co measures your culture-fit potential through quizzes.

“…machines don’t replace humans under conditions of prosperity for all humans—they do so under capitalist market conditions in which machines are chose because they are cheaper and more docile than humans: they don’t object, talk back, organize, strike, slack.” Zeynep Tufecki is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers about robots and work.

Organizing Theory

Thinking about using social media to target a company’s brand? Read these lessons from Ultraviolet & Greenpeace, on what’s worked for them. Here’s another good example of social media making change in the food industry. “Companies are now trying to ensure that their products are not the next pink slime…”

If you’re planning on launching a digital tool to increase transparency, read this guide to the fundamentals…

The cell-phone unlocking bill that passed Congress last week was partially launched by an online petition. But organizers didn’t stop with digital activism, they focused on offline actions too.

From Partners

The folks at Little Sis are doing an amazing job of cataloguing the social relationships of people with power in the US. They’ve just unveiled a new tool, Oligrapher, that’s designed to help people make visual sense of those relationships.

Geeking Out

Emotional robots? But what if we like the emotionless kind? http://bit.ly/1suiqso Now pancake-flipping robots, on the other hand… And while we’re looking at robots—what could you do with an extra finger or two?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

When co-ops go wrong… Carl Ratner, on the corrupting influence of corporate co-ops.

Climate change could cost us the equivalent, in productivity, of the entire labor force of Connecticut being wiped out.

Brazil’s Free Fare Movement has been pushing back against public transit fare hikes through a series of highly public actions and traffic shutdowns.

Is SeeClickFix transforming local politics in the US? Maybe, a little bit.

Are you ready to spend $8/month renting jeans?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

The circular economy means companies who want to reduce waste will buy back old goods. I’m not sure I’m up to rent a pair of jeans for E6/month, though.

Cities are starting to figure out ways to use public policy to support cooperative and solidarity economies. Here are five US cities that are thinking creatively about it.

AirBnB CEO talks about how the sharing economy may be better at policing community standards than government regulations. Color me skeptical.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Yeah, the fallout from that Facebook study isn’t going away anytime soon. Here, Senator Warner (D-VA) writes to the FTC asking them to investigate.

Organizing Theory

For those of us who have spent way too much time either running around group meetings with a microphone, or standing awkwardly onstage waiting for someone else to do that—CrowdMic seems like a great solution. Turn every smartphone in the audience into a wireless mic.

From Partners

When a campaign is in crisis mode, it can be hard for online campaigners to drill down metrics to campaign leaders. Here’s how Greenpeace shifted their internal campaign reporting strategy, during the fight to free the Arctic 30.

Geeking Out

The BRCK, a new router designed for getting online in places where internet connectivity is unreliable, had its launch in Nairobi last week.

Could a tax on financial transactions bail out the global economy? There’s only one way to find out, IMO.

Is the self-driving car closer than you think?

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

UK workers have the biggest gap in the EU between hours spent at work and hours agreed-on, contractually. (In the US, of course, we’ve only got two options—work too much or too little.)

The Venezualans are about to let women who worked as stay-at-home mothers claim a pension, in a startling advance in gender equity.

Here’s a good look at what it’s like to try to earn $6/hour as a Mechanical Turk. Not too easy.

Elevating the use of Apple’s iBeacon to new levels of creepy time clock management is Punchclock.

Final Thoughts

I’m at Netroots Nation this week–so if you’re here, look me up! I’ve got stickers…


“It’s ‘just’ financial journalism…”

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

Wanna make sure your kids have jobs in the world of the future? Get them into robot design while they’re young.

Will everything eventually be free? And if so, how will we know who’s winning?

“The idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is just not true.” Google co-founders agree—there’s not going to be enough work for everyone in the future. They’re promoting part-time work (but at part-time pay?), and maybe we should stop doing “dumb things like destroy(ing) the environment…” VentureBeat looks at the economic recovery and its tendency to force full-time employees into part-time work.

“It’s ‘just’ financial journalism…” Did we learn nothing from the recession?

Organizing Theory

Greenpeace has some great lessons to share, for folks who are running an industry-wide campaign that targets multiple corporations—in this case, those in fast fashion.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

You probably heard about the revelation that Facebook has been experimenting on whether they can change your mood by showing you positive or negative posts. Here, Zeynep Tufekci examines how that level of data mining and manipulation can be used by political campaigns. Could Facebook swing an election?

Should you buy Twitter followers for yourself or your organization? Maybe.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

How do we make sure that, as we build a new economy, it has a moral compass, and doesn’t just replicate the old way of doing business?

Sit on a park bench and charge your cell phone via the sun? Yes, please.

Final Thoughts

“Ignoring short-term distraction is what creates speed.”

Brett Scott, The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money

Is email the cockroach of the internet?

Organizing Theory

Is email the cockroach of the internet? If so, I’m infested. Nevertheless, email newsletters are still effective at reaching readers. 

Original Content

New post from Douglas Williams this week, explaining the backstory of the Harris v. Quinn decision, and some thoughts about what it might all mean.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Still wondering if a guaranteed basic income makes economic sense? One recent study from Mexico showed that if the government sent people cash instead of food—they mostly spent it on food. But the money went farther.

Ride-sharing in your personal car is one thing (in fact, it’s this thing)—but trying to “share” a parking space that is, in fact, owned by the public is not okay.

Geeking Out

Driving across Canada this summer? These artists hope you will pick up their hitchhiking robot, if you happen to run across it.

And speaking of artists—this woman has transformed herself into a corporation, so that she can retain & profit from sole control of her own data.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

Anchorpeople beware. The android newscaster has been launched in Japan.

This heat map shows the percentage of low-wage workers that would benefit from a minimum wage increase, by congressional district.

Have you thought about transitioning your business (or the business that employs workers you represent) to a worker-owned co-op? Here’s a good step by step walk through of the process. Relatedly, Hilary Abell has a new paper out about moving worker coops to scale.

Last week, the Freelancer’s Union launched a national benefits platform to provide health care, dental, life insurance and more for freelancers in the US.

“…hackers may be their own worst enemies.”

Original Content

Have you seen Douglas Williams’ new post, “Occupying the 21st Century: The Rise of Leftism in American Youth Organizing” yet? If you like our original content, consider contributing to Hack the Union via Patreon

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…the companies run by the CEOs who were paid at the top 10% of the scale, had the worst performance…” Forbes reports on a study out of the University of Utah’s School of Business.

There probably hasn’t been a region more impacted by technology than the Bay Area. The SF Chronicle took an in-depth look at how the sharing economy is playing out through AirBnB rentals in SF…

Want a storefront, but only want to rent it for one day? Check out Storefront.

From Partners

Economic Policy Institute has a new paper out detailing why raising wages is the central economic challenge for the US right now. Friend of the blog Mariya Strauss wrote a post about why raising women’s pay, in particular, would be good for the economy.

Organizing Theory

SEIU UHW’s Dave Regan has a proposal for how unions can expand political access through ballot initiative access in 24 states. Since I’m spending most of this week at a training on how to run ballot initiative campaigns, it’s of particular interest to me.

And also out of SEIU–Local 775 president (and early backer of this effort) David Rolf, on how labor should learn lessons from start-up culture, by investing deeply, innovating often, and not being afraid to fail.

Geeking Out

Want to play a game that will teach you all about supply chains? Check out Factorio.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

The Freelancer’s Union just put out a report on the growth of their membership—and some inferences about what’s going on with freelancers more generally.

Last week, the story of a man who automated a co-worker’s job. This week? A man who outsourced his own.

Tech journalist Quinn Norton interviews her mother on what it’s like to be poor and uninsured in the US.

Will you like it better when your boss is a robot?  How about if it’s your lawyer? (Insert obligatory lawyer joke here.)

You thought the automation of waitstaff was just about reducing labor costs? It’s more insidious than that. Turns out, the real reason Chili’s wants a tablet to take your order, instead of a human, is so that you’ll order more food.

Final Thoughts

“…hackers may be their own worst enemies. By claiming that the Net is uncontrollable, they are absenting themselves from the process of creating the system that will control it. Having given up any attempt to set the rules, they are allowing the rules to be set for them. Corporations are by no means intrinsically malign, but it is folly to think that their interests will always dovetail with those of the public.”

Charles Mann, “Taming the Web”, Technology Review (September 2001)

Will better facial recognition mean we need to protect the right to lie?

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

Will we someday need to advocate for the right to lie, because Google Glass could let wearers know you might be lying?

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

If you’ve never clicked on a video (or if you’ve clicked on all of them) in this newsletter…click on this one. Not only the best meeting I’ve been to this year—basically, the fundamental question I am asking with this blog.

Before we have self-driving cars, we’ll have self-driving trucks.

Robot-assisted surgery might be safer and more cost-effective than that featuring only humans.

Read one man’s story of how he automated the job of a co-worker…kinda by accident.

Robot security guard. That looks like a Dalek. Sort of.

From Partners

How does CEO pay increase stock distribution to shareholders at the expense of job creation? This new Roosevelt Institute report shows us the way.  And on a related note—Walmart really has figured out how to game the (tax) system.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Why do some sharing economy participants want to get paid for their “sharing?” Because they’re getting screwed by the economy in many other ways.

A good look at the Jackson Rising conference, and the movement behind democratization of the South’s economy.

Do you have an idea for a new sharing project in your community? Shareable wants to give you a grant of up to $1,000 to support it. Apply online before June 20th.


“…we have an economic system that, by its very nature, will always reward people who make other people’s lives worse…”

What’s Going On in the Workforce?

“…we have an economic system that, by its very nature, will always reward people who make other people’s lives worse and punish those that make them better.” David Graeber expands on his theory of “bullshit jobs.”

Good news, art majors—Dilbert says, in a world of complete automation, artists will be king! Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 2.40.46 PM

The Chamber of Commerce says it will cost US businesses $700 million to estimate their CEO-to-average worker pay ratio. Aren’t those guys supposed to be the Big Data experts?

Paris Bakery workers have been occupying their worksite for a week, to protest the fact that many of them have up to 3 months’ worth of unpaid wages—and to keep the boss from emptying out the facility.

Geeking Out

Do you want an open-source, encrypted method for video chat & meetings that DOESN’T require reliance on Google? Try jitsi.

From Partners

Center for Popular Democracy is launching a new campaign called the Fair Workweek Initiative, to fight for predictable schedules for retail & other low-paid workers.  As for me, I personally feel like we’re moving more and more toward a world where white collar workers complain about being too busy, and service sector workers are struggling to put together enough hours to get by… Here’s an interesting perspective on how to know when to stop working, if you freelance (or otherwise work for yourself). And check out this new magazine that was created specifically for freelancers.

“I don’t have to be degraded for a couple more dollars.” Restaurant Opportunity Center has a great video series about #livingofftips—watch this one about the link between sexual harassment and tipped work.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Instead of building a separate ecosystem of civic-ly hacking apps—why not build civic possibility into apps that are already on the phones of millions of users? For some good examples of that, check out this article about using your smartphone for climate science. “It makes people feel like science isn’t just this kind of remote thing done by people in white coats in labs, but something rather more approachable.”

Felix Salmon looks at the economics of driving for Uber.

“Interpersonal forms of sharing are not enough to deliver social justice or environmental sustainability.”

Here’s an interesting idea—this reverse food truck collects food for the hungry, instead of selling it.

Organizing Theory

Organizer Melissa Byrne tells a story of self, student loan debt, and pushing through to find a long view within herself, even when it got really hard.

Final Thoughts

“Greed may be an inherent part of human nature, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do to temper the consequences of unscrupulous bankers who would exploit the poor & engage in anti-competitive practices. We can & should regulate banks, forbid predatory lending, make them accountable for their fraudulent practices & punish them for abuses of monopoly power.”

Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality