New Approaches to Organizing Women and Young Workers – Social Media and Work Family Issues

Source: Netsy Firestein, Deborah King,Katie Quan, Labor Project for Working Families, Cornell ILR Labor Programs and UC Berkeley Labor Center, July 2010

From a Berger-Marks summary:
How useful are online media and work-family issues in organizing? To find out, a Berger-Marks grant helped researchers interview 23 organizers about how they use new media and whether they highlight family and work issues in their campaigns.

The study confirmed that “some of the most exciting and innovative strategies and tools are being developed by young organizers using new technology and social media.”

They are using Internet websites to provide information; Facebook and MySpace to help workers connect and express opinions; and Twitter and texts to remind workers to take action. Nonetheless, those same organizers caution that new technology and social media are no substitute for personal contact, and that unions need to make sure they protect workers’ security and privacy.

The study concludes that “Organizers are using new technology and social media successfully. The immediate challenge for unions will be how to provide organizers with these tools, the skills to use them and the budget to maintain them.” It recommends giving frontline organizers technical support and the authority to respond rapidly.

It also calls for “a new union culture that is attractive to young workers” and helps them take on leadership.

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