Better, stronger, faster: Union movement uses tech to ramp up organising
From Facebook ads to apps promoting workplace rights to artificial intelligence, the labour movement is expanding its toolkit to grow its membership, and this week, UNI Europa hosted union activists from throughout Europe to inspire new ideas and share best practices for online organising.
“Unions have always been a source of social change and innovation, and now we see that the labour movement is harnessing technological innovation to improve conditions for workers,” said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa. “This summit shows new ways we can help workers—those with a union and those trying to form one— to increase their union membership, enhance sectoral collective bargaining and, ultimately, get the fair share they deserve.”
Leaders from UNI, Italy’s FIST-CISL, the UK’s Unite, Germany’s Ver.di, and Sweden’s Unionen were joined by presenters from Australia’s SDA and the U.S. SEIU.
With workplaces becoming more fragmented, several of the presentations discussed how unions can find workers and identify potential leaders online. FIST-CISL described how it is using smart phones in innovative ways to maintain accurate worker databases, and UNI SCORE and SEIU discussed examples of Facebook and data analysis to focus on workers willing to take real life actions from online communications.
Ver.di, SEIU and Unite all gave examples of using different technologies and online outreach to retain and better service members.
Reminding us that relevant, quality content is key, Unionen outlined their successful social media strategy to engage workers, and the SDA provided insight into an exciting program using AI to answer worker questions and increase engagement.
“We are facing a major challenge in how we use our resources in a workforce more divided, precarious, and fractured than it was ten—even five years—ago,” said Christy Hoffman, Deputy General Secretary of UNI. “We have to rise to this challenge and not only maintain our membership but grow our membership. The technology we are talking about allows us to reach millions of workers and unite them across borders, countries, industries and platforms.”