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.

organizing to fight sexual harassment

Earlier this month, I attended the convening launch of National COSH’s new Sexual Harassment Action Network, and heard countless stories of women fighting sexual harassment in a variety of industries. It’s good to see that this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves from the national labor movement, and equally good to see a combination of worker center leaders, legal advocates, and union staff joining together to talk about how to fight the kind of harassment that can make workplaces unwelcoming for those who identify as women or non-binary.

Fighting sexual harassment hasn’t always been a top priority for the entire labor movement. Too many women have been told to grin & bear it, for too long. Too many unions have felt that their legal duty, in cases of member-on-member sexual harassment, has been to defend the harasser not the victim. While unions do have a responsibility to make sure that every member’s due process rights are protected, it is not incumbent on the union to defend from appropriate discipline a member who did something wrong.

Presenters at the convening introduced the concept of victim-centered reporting, and talked about the need to press employers to make sure that their workers were safe. SEIU Justice for Janitors members discussed their fight to pass AB 1978, which puts requirements on cleaning companies to do training to prevent sexual harassment & assault, and showed this moving video about their fast, aimed at pressuring Governor Jerry Brown to sign that bill.

Unite HERE also showcased their work to bargain protections for housekeepers, who are often working alone in rooms with men who are strangers, into all their hotel contracts around the country, as well as to protect servers from sexual harassment at the hands of patrons.

COSH is asking folks who are supportive to take the “Our Turn” Pledge, and to commit to changing the power dynamics that allow harassment to thrive.

Just give 5 stars. Don’t quibble.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Repeat after me: “Any time someone’s boss asks me to rate them (especially using software), I will give them five stars unless I literally feared for my safety.” Caroline O’Donovan has a devastating look at how restaurant iPads are getting servers fired, and enabling discrimination.

Amazon workers in the EU have announced a general strike at Amazon in the second week of July, hoping to maximize their impact by hitting the company’s Prime Day sales.

Care workers in New Zealand just won massive pay increases from the government, based on the fact that women’s work has historically been undervalued.

The Century Foundation takes a deeper look at the new Contingent Work Survey data.

Robot chef cooks hamburgers in San Francisco fast food place.

Geeking Out

I’m not going to lie—this video of robots packing grocery orders looks like it would make a video game that I’d be obsessed by for about a week.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

The ACLU is continuing to demand that Amazon stop selling facial recognition software to police departments and other law enforcement agencies, given the extreme racial inequity in American policing. And Amazon employees have weighed in with the company too.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Founder of the now-defunct Josephine (a service for home-based cooks to sell food) is looking for input on a piece of legislation designed to legalize home-based cooks, including input on how to protect workers’ rights.

Uber is pushing drivers to adopt cleaner vehicles, by offering unspecified financial bonuses & some in-app features specific to those with electric cars.

From Partners

I’m curious about this new push to organize for racial equity at the local level in cities across the US, through policy work. Anyone out there involved in this?

Is it Janus Day?

Did you know that Janus is the Greek god of transitions? Note to self–try to work that into your next “whither the labor movement” take. 

Organizing Theory

Are you constantly hitting ‘refresh’ to see if the Janus decision came out yet? Give your browser a break and read this post about how teachers’ unions in Detroit survived, despite suffering their own mini-Janus six years ago.

Read through the corporate-speak to ask yourself: does my organization have anything like this approach to developing a workplace culture, from Day 1 on? As someone who’s changed jobs a lot, I can tell you that few progressive groups approach on-boarding with anywhere near this level of competency.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

If your city or state wins an Amazon HQ2 bid, workers might be paying their taxes to the boss.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Amazon games the system of “voluntary time off” to deprive warehouse workers of full-time pay.

Uber drivers went on strike in South Africa earlier this week, protesting the company’s fees as fuel prices skyrocket.

Drones and robots are being used in the construction of a new methane cracking plant in Western PA.

Apologies for the late delivery of Hack the Union. It’s been a week.