communications


safespace anonymous email and web forumsBestu oskir from Iceland — the Switzerland of data! That’s where you’ll find safeSpace, an anonymized communication tool created by volunteers from the New Unionism Network. It’s an online facility where workers can discuss issues without fear of being identified, and where they can meet securely with union organizers and/or colleagues from other countries. safeSpace also provides email addresses which have been stripped of any identifying information — a handy tool for whistleblowers and those who want to bring attention to crap they are witnessing. Unlike anything we’ve done before this is a user-pays service, but there wasn’t any way we could get the project off the ground otherwise. We’re sticking to our non-profit roots by offering free accounts to union organizers in a series of ultra-repressive regimes; initially Algeria, the Central African Republic, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali, North Korea, Paraguay and Somalia.

The safeSpace system is still in Beta, and we’ve got a few details to iron out, so we’re offering folks a 50% discount until October. Financial members of the New Unionism Network will continue to get the discount after that. If you’d like to know more about the project check out the FAQ here.

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volunteersWe’re looking for TWELVE volunteers to spend a month each as a Guest Editor. The job involves anything from about five hours per week to… well… you set the upper limit. We need your ideas, your energies, your perspectives and your networks. And hey – we need to shake things up a bit! It’s not just about running the Blog and FaceBook pages. We’re happy to see change… love the stuff… so you’re welcome to propose new projects, or conduct provocative interviews, or organize Meet-Ups, or launch a YouTube channel, or create a Prezi, or design a smartphone app… Play to your strengths!

There’s no particular job description for our 12 Guest Editors, just like there’s no wages (sorry – we should have mentioned that earlier!). This is not because we’re tight with money, just because we don’t have any. We get by on volunteer work and a budget south of shoestrings. (so hey – if fund-raising is a strengths of yours, we also need to talk!) In short, this is a great chance to make contacts and work alongside some inspiring strugglers and thinkers. The only restriction is that your work and approach must be in keeping with our principles (here) and our content guidelines (here).

Please contact communications@newunionism.net if you think you can help.

peerThe transnationalisation of production, along with the rise of global supply chains, informalisation, financialisation, and connecting of world markets through informationalisation have all hit hard on workers. It seems to have become impossible to overcome the resulting divisions among working classes, who have been so radically abused by capital. These new structural forces have created an immense need for connected self-organisations of workers, built from the bottom up, and operating simultaneously at local, national and international levels. This article argues for a new global unionism that goes beyond the IWW experience and allows workers to connect local, national, regional and international struggles by aligning with other struggles in life. (more…)

As unionists, we pretty much know what we’re against, but what are we for? What values should the union movement be prioritizing, representing and promoting? The New Unionism Network ran an online survey from January 2007 to January 2012* (it is now closed). In it, we asked people to select a “Top 10” among 42 values. Below are  the results, with the subsequent 5 included as well. There is a very clear message in here for those who believe “business unionism” is the way forward. Most members do NOT wish to identify with a simple, self-interested approach. If your union prioritizes wage increases above all else, you might need to do some deeper research into what members actually want.

What values should unions prioritize?

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‘Knowledge work’ is increasingly significant in global value chains – where creating, processing and transporting information plays a crucial role – but the analysis of this area of employment enjoys less attention. What is the scope for unionisation? How might this work across borders? The latest edition of the journal “Work, Organisation, Labour and Globalisation” (Getting the Message: Communications workers and global value chains, Ed Catherine McKercher and Vincent Mosco, Volume 4 no 2, 2010) looks at the growth of communication work and its political potential within the global economy. Richy Leitch reviews it for us below. You can buy the book or download the full text of individual articles here: http://goo.gl/IsN78. (more…)

Here’s one to watch. Down in New Zealand, a country with an unusually cohesive (though struggling) union movement, affiliates of the national union federation have launched an innovative thing called “Together“. We’re calling it a thing because it doesn’t really fit into any of the usual drawers. It’s not a union, not an NGO, not an organisation, not a network, not an association, club, sect, faction, fraction, tendency or movement. What it is, above all else, is a potential solution to several of the quandaries that unions have been trying to solve for at least 10 years. (more…)

How do we optimise communications between union members and union staff? Over the past few years many unions have experimented with call centers. Results and reactions have been mixed: some have established their worth, others have been a costly disaster. Below is an excerpt from Steve Early’s forthcoming book: “The Civil Wars in U.S. Labour — Birth of a New Workers’ Movement or Death Throes of The Old?“. In it, Steve explores the pros and cons and different approaches to call center servicing through an analysis of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) experience. The SEIU launched an ambitious plan to service hundreds of thousands of members through a network of “Member Resource Centers”. Critics feared the role of union stewards and shop floor activity was being undermined. Inevitably, the exercise also raised bigger questions about the process of relationship-building within unions. Depending on the model implemented, call centers can facilitate this process or act as a poor substitute. No matter what your feelings are about the Change to Win split, this article is very much worth reading.  We can learn a lot from the SEIU experience, which is why this story is so important. Does your union have a call center? What has your own experience been? Let us know below. (more…)

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