End prison slavery

Hope you enjoyed your parades, picnics & Labor Day BBQs–now, back to the grind!

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Teen Vogue, on the prison strike that’s been going on for several weeks.

Well, this is interesting…tech that seems to allow workers in global supply chains to “talk” to the brands that are commissioning their work through third parties.

Uber is fighting a Brazilian court ruling that they should consider a driver an employee, not a contractor.

From Partners

A great piece, by Coworker’s Jess Kutch, on what unions could be doing to build worker power in non-union worksites that is not limited to fighting for CBAs.

From a policy perspective, DC is the best place in America to be a low-wage worker. Check out this new scorecard from Oxfam America.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Cathy O’Neill, with an interesting post on why Facebook reputation scores could be a good thing—especially if they give users control over how to use them.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

6 chefs convene to talk about how to fix the restaurant industry’s sexual harassment problem.

It’s the day after a holiday weekend that marks the end of summer. You’d rather still be on vacation. Why not read this story about cruise ship entertainers, instead of working?

This Japanese startup will quit your job for you (well, at least if you work in Japan it will).

One worker’s story, about what it’s like to work a gig-like job in an Amazon warehouse.

If we’re all underwater, will we still want cheese?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

I want to make a joke linking this article about a floating dairy farm to Kevin Costner’s Waterworld, but then I’d have to remind you that we’re all inching closer to a landless planet. Ooops!

A really thoughtful article by Danny Spitzberg about the current and future state of the platform coop movement.

Airbnb is suing New York City, ostensibly to protect the privacy of hosts.

California could be the first US state to require that corporate boards include women. Shocker, the Chamber of Commerce is opposed!

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Australian Uber drivers held another one-day strike last week. “I have no control over the price, I don’t know where I am going and I don’t know how much I’ll get paid, so how can I be an independent contractor.” In other Uber news, the company settled a discrimination complaint filed by 56 employees for about $10 million.

Kroger just launched a self-driving grocery delivery service in Arizona. And in other grocery-automation news—more startups are looking to do checkout-free grocery—but do customers want it?

From Partners

Tarana Burke, founder of the #metoo movement, is conducting a survey to find community organizations and others that are working for survivors of sexual assault.

The Freelancers Union is launching a hub for freelancers in NYC, which features free coworking and business advice for freelancers.

Organizing Theory

Check out this toolkit on how to improve your story collection, as an organizer. Bonus points if you use the water bottle trick.

Here’s a fascinating new effort by campaigners to aggregate how-tos about different kinds of organizing strategies and tactics, in one online place: Blueprint for Change.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Amazon’s army of Twitter bots are trying to convince us all that the company is good to its warehouse workers.

Geeking Out

A walk-through of a food truck outfitted with pizza-making robots.

Happy Labor Day, folks! May your parades be rain-free!

“Medical care’s never going to change some of these outcomes.”

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…if you’re a pediatrician and you look at the numbers, you have to do something to participate in the solution around eliminating poverty in these neighborhoods. Medical care’s never going to change some of these outcomes.” How one hospital is working to fight poverty, to make medical outcomes better for local kids.

So you want your city to invest in infrastructure, but instead they’re paying Wells Fargo ridiculous fees. LA is considering a public bank, so citizens can have more control over how their local taxes are used.

Baltimore is about to ban water privatization.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you—ICE & CBP are subjecting activists to extreme vetting—even when they are native-born US citizens.

Organizing Theory

After Caroline O’Donovan’s brobilizing article last week, here’s a good recent example—Lime & Bird take all their electric scooters offline in Santa Monica, to protest a city council decision.

From Partners

AAUW is doing a survey to collect info on workplace sexual harassment.

Geeking Out

I’m sorry I didn’t see the announcement of this Indegogo before it expired—but excited to someday see this Ken Roach-directed documentary, about engineers in Britain who figured out how to transition their company from arms manufacture to more socially-useful production.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

It’s the second half of August, and everyone is on vacation, or just playing Angry Birds on their phone (do people still play Angry Birds? I’m out of the phone game loop). So spend a few minutes reading this: the worst bosses, from a person who writes an advice column for people about workplace etiquette.

App work makes drivers more distracted, causing crashes & unsafe driving.

Uber announced it’s opening a center to focus on developing tech that can make it safer for drivers to accept cash for rides, in Brazil.

Fast Company takes a look at open hiring—profiling two companies that don’t let criminal records stop them from hiring qualified candidates.

Have you been brobilized?

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Caroline O’Donovan takes a look at the phenomenon of tech companies using their customer base as lobbyists, and coins the genius term “brobilizing.” There’s also a great tumblr that’s been capturing some of the ongoing efforts of tech companies to mobilize their users.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

How gig economy apps create a digital security divide for their contractors and direct employees.

Is your bank using biometric behavior tracking to authenticate your online activity? Creepily, this entire article was populated by ads for my bank, for me…

Organizing Theory

Long, but super-interesting read about a talk given to folks from the Tech Workers Collective about the anarchist unions in Spain in the 1920s & 30s—and what worker organizers of today can learn from them.

From Partners

From the Roosevelt Institute, a new report on rebuilding worker voice for the 21st century.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that New York City Council voted to cap the total number of ride-sharing cars in the city.

An interesting data visualization
that shows how to figure out which jobs are most similar to jobs that will likely be automated, for retraining purposes.

Will AI-powered robots start picking your vegetables?

This worker is living in her car, after being injured in an Amazon warehouse.

“They all packed up and dipped.”

Geeking Out

“They all packed up and dipped.” If you haven’t seen the video of a wildcat construction strike in Indianapolis, check it out. #nsfw on language, so put your headphones on first.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

A week in the life of a smoothie maker in NYC.

If you’ve been to a Dodgers game this summer, have you eaten food cooked by a robot?

Uber ended their self-driving truck development program last week, to focus on cars.

Increased automation in factories will likely lead to a rise in human trafficking.

SumofUs is working to get out the news about Amazon delivery drivers, who are fighting to get the company to pay workers’ comp when they are injured.

Organizing Theory

The ACLU is using some of the money they’ve raised since the 2016 election to build a suite of privacy-first activist digital tools.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Friend o’ the blog Ben Werdmüller points out that our tendency to embrace monopolistic spaces on the internet makes surveillance easier.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

The UK’s Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce looks at how it might be possible for automation to increase jobs.

The Poor People’s Campaign in Kentucky has faced incredible challenges from their governor.

Check out this interview with one of the founders of Molenbike, a worker-owned bike delivery system.

Rob Ford just cancelled Ontario’s basic income program, only part of the way through, leaving low-income people who were counting on it scrambling to achieve their goals.

“…the effective taxation of capital, in the face of increased automation, will increasingly become necessary for a sustainable social contract.”

Hey folks, I’ll be in New Orleans at the end of this week for Netroots Nation. If you wanna grab a drink/lunch/coffee, hit me up!

Original Content

Last month, I talked to Marcy Goldstein Gelb from National COSH, about their work to build a campaign to fight sexual harassment in the workplace. Check it out here.

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, the Quebecois government created a new laboratory to inspire cooperative development. Here are some of their lessons learned, from the first year.

Walmart employees across the company are using Even to manage their money, and get advances on their pay—not just frontline workers, but managers. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about what that says about their pay rates. Also, apparently bankers think your money should “age” in your account. Like wine?

The Economist, on how work is killing us.

“…the effective taxation of capital, in the face of increased automation, will increasingly become necessary for a sustainable social contract.” But tax havens are keeping us from being able to do that.

Organizing Theory

Worker-driven reporting, especially through worker-led organizations, is more effective than consumer organization monitoring of worksites, in improving workers’ lives. https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/annie-pickering/when-workers-lead-on-enforcing-labour-standards-case-study-of-electron

How Brazilian truckers used What’s App to organize the country’s biggest trucking strike. https://truthout.org/articles/the-brazilian-truckers-strike-how-whatsapp-is-changing-the-rules-of-the-game/

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Don’t chip yourself, if your employer asks you to. Just don’t. h/t to Elana Lavin for this one.

Uber drivers are planning a strike against the company in Austin this Friday, citing changes to the way the company has decided to start splitting fares, which can leave them earning less. And speaking of striking Uber drivers, the Barcelona strike spread to Madrid, last weekend. And London’s black car drivers are considering suing Uber for $1 billion in lost income.

Don’t shop white supremacy–boycott Amazon on Prime Day!

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Amazon workers in Spain were on strike yesterday and today to disrupt the company’s Prime Day success, while in the US , groups upset about Amazon’s sales of white supremacist merchandise staged actions outside the company’s locations.

Philly newsrooms have joined together in a very interesting year-long reporting project called “Broke in Philly.” Here, one local tv station looks at the phenomenon of side hustles, because people can’t afford to live on just one (and most of them aren’t hustling through apps).

The folks at Coworker.org have put together a how-to talk to your coworkers about human rights issues, if you want to impact your company’s behavior.

Striking Uber drivers in Kenya have forced the company to sign an agreement that they won’t cut fares.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

It’s not easy to be a whistleblower. Here’s a long read from David Dayen about one man’s fight against sexual harassment, inside one of the biggest global banks.

Companies say they’re “powered by AI.” Sometimes, the I isn’t so A.

Uber has laid off all its self-driving car testers.

From Partners

Classism Exposed is running a great series of first-person blog posts, talking about the experience of poverty.

Geeking Out

Tim Berners-Lee (you know, the guy who kind of invented the internet as we know it) is working on a new system to allow us all to actually control our own data—regardless of what platform we’re using it on.

Two Things!

I’ll be on vacation next week, so there won’t be a Hack the Union on Tuesday, July 24.

The week after that, I’ll be at Netroots Nation–ping me, if you want to meet up for coffee or a drink in New Orleans!

TIL that “gavel cake” is a much better google image search than “caveman cake”

Organizing Theory

What can established organizations learn from the start-up efforts of young movements?

If you’re counting on a hashtag to bring attention to your cause, read this analysis of how hashtag hijacking affected #familiesbelongtogether.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

A detailed look at how housing cooperatives work.

Tech coops are upending the paradigm of what building startups can look like.

You may have missed it in the daily churn of news—but tech workers in San Francisco rallied yesterday to call on Salesforce to end their contract with the Customs & Border Patrol.

Geeking Out

I don’t really understand why a robotic frozen yogurt dispenser needs to be gendered, but you do you, robot folks.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“…across the economy, companies have shown a remarkable unwillingness to boost wages, with growth barely keeping pace with inflation even as the unemployment rate has dropped to 4 percent.” So this is what full employment looks like?

Retailers that have experimented with robots are moving away from in-store adoption—but they’ve replaced robots with AI.


Are you a Black feminist? If you are (or you work with one), consider attending this Black Feminist Organizing School.

sexual harassment is a workers’ rights issue

Original Content

Last week, National COSH launched a new network to fight sexual harassment on the job. Read my story about it here, and sign on to join that network here.

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.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Data & Society has just released a new report, looking at the impact of the gig economy & platform work across domestic work and ride sharing services.

If you need a good example of why worker power matters, check out this article about Amazon’s experiments in employee-mediated grievance process.

There’s a trucker & bus driver shortage brewing, in the US. Maybe we should all be encouraging our Lyft drivers to go to commercial driving school…

And while we’re on the subject of turning what used to be professional driving jobs into contract gigs—here’s a good piece about what it’s like to drive for Amazon Flex.

Geeking Out

A majority of Americans believe that robots will develop the ability to carry out most human activities, over the next 30 years. These ones are already better acrobats than I will ever be.

From Partners

EPI went looking for the missing piece of last month’s Contingent Worker Survey data, by going through tax filings from 2000-2015, and concluded that independent contracting has gone up somewhat, over the past 15 years, but not as a primary source of employment for most people.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Cities are starting to get sued to reveal their Amazon HQ2 bids.

Ride-sharing drivers in New York will now be able to get vision insurance, through the Black Car Fund.