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Organizing Tool In Your Employee’s Pockets

nlrb-app-phoneAlthough historically unions have always remained behind the curve in modernizing their organizing processes – probably as a legacy of unionism promoting laziness and resistance to change – some of them have caught on to the value of new technology and social media tools to extend their reach.

App technology now allows unions and members to sign petitions, access video and images, read press releases, connect to social media accounts, report workplace violations, and keep abreast of union news. With the NLRB’s focus on broadening employee rights through the use of technology, and with a smartphone in almost every pocket, unions are finding more ways to have direct communication with members and potential members without having to meet face to face. The NLRB has stated it has plans to upgrade its own

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Labor Relations INK March 2016

In this issue:

Union Pension Woes Continue Only The Names Have Changed… Fighting Back Labor Around the World Insight, SEIU Watch, Labor Around the World, and more…

The bottom of each story contains a link to the individual post on our site.

Labor Relations Insight

by Phil Wilson

Persuader: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

goodbadugly2The persuader rule went final today. I’ve read the rule. All 446 pages (I don’t have a life so you can have one). Okay, I may have skimmed a few pages. Here is what you need to know about the new rule.

The Good

Here’s the good news: This rule is much improved over the proposed rule from 2011.

The Department of Labor deserves some credit for listening to its regulated community. They rolled back a number of

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Alt Labor

 Renovation of Cohen Auditorium. Photo: Kelvin Ma

Renovation of Cohen Auditorium. Photo: Kelvin Ma

Fast food restaurants aren’t the only businesses suffering from the assault of alt-labor organizations, as Tufts University discovered recently. The Boston area school is one of the few in that region that have not signed a union-only labor agreement for construction projects. And even though not all of their projects are handled by non-union labor, a group calling itself the Tufts Labor Coalition organized a rally of 40 students, who spent an afternoon chanting and submitted a list of demands to the university.

In the era of smartphone apps, another alt-labor tool recently emerged for use by the ranks of day laborers. The app allows laborers to rate

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Labor Relations INK July 2015

In this issue:

Criminals & Bullies Will Labor Issues Figure Prominently in the 2016 Campaign Season? High Tech and New Media Employers Beware Exposé of Union Fat-Cats SEIU Watch, Sticky Fingers, Scoreboard, Insight and more…

The bottom of each story contains a link to the individual post on our site.

Labor Relations Insight

By Phil Wilson

One of my audience members became so bored and distracted that he shoved both his hands down the front of his pants. And that’s when I knew I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

Maybe I should back up a bit. I volunteered to help my daughter’s school start a debate team this year. I know what you’re going to say – just think of it as my nerdy version of playing catch with my kid. In order to get these middle schoolers up to speed the speech teacher and I

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Social Media Spotlight

In an inevitable gaff, a woman who voted for unionization ruined the effort by tweeting a picture of herself casting her ballot, which was the deciding vote in a 5-vote turnout at Webster University in St. Louis. The NLRB Regional Director ruled that by ruining the secrecy of her vote, she nullified her ballot, thus creating a 2-2 tie which goes to the employer. In a world where folks seem to think everybody wants to see what they had for breakfast via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, be prepared to see more of this.

Another social media development is worth keeping an eye on, for two different reasons. A recent campaign on social organizing site coworker.org, led by Starbucks baristas, forced the company to make changes to dress code policies. Coworker.org has facilitated similar campaigns since its inception in 2013, none of which have been led by unions.

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Labor Relations INK April 2015

In this issue:

How To Drive Business Away Dire Straits Teamster Monkey Business at the Zoo Full Of Sound And Fury… SEIU Watch, Sticky Fingers, Scoreboard, Insight and more…

The bottom of each story contains a link to the individual post on our site.

Labor Relations Insight by Phil Wilson

Let me start by answering the question that I know is on your mind: did Darth Vader actually build C-3PO?

If you’re like me (thankfully you’re probably not) you’ve been binge-watching the new digital re-masters of the canonical Star Wars films. The last time I saw the “prequels” was in the theater, so watching them all at once with my daughter has been really fun. I’ve caught some things I didn’t notice before. Like the fact that my second-favorite paranoid android (sorry, but Marvin is first place and has a much cooler song) was (mostly) built by the

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Social Media Spotlight

expletiveIt’s just not going away anytime soon. The NLRB has determined that as long as an employee rant can be even tenuously connected to protected concerted activity, your employees can pretty much curse, swear and malign you to their hearts content in social media venues – even sprinkling their invective with all the F-bombs they can muster.

Prior to any disciplinary action, careful scrutinize both the context and the content of the rant – and even then tread lightly! The NLRB seems to see PCA like Ghost Busters see ghosts!


When Au Bon Pain attempted to resist an organizing drive at a location in the Philadelphia airport, student activists across the nation swarmed the Au Bon Pain locations on their campuses demanding to discuss the action in Philadelphia with the local outlet managers. Like swatting a hornets nest! Social media tools can facilitate a quick and sometimes large response, especially by well-organized groups. In this case, local chapters of the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) were the tip of the spear.


As Big Labor casts around for other potential members to support their dwindling ranks, the multitudes working in the so-called gig economy have caught their eye. It is an interesting conundrum for unions. The Apps that allow these folks to work independently also prevent them from understanding

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Social Media Spotlight

SpotlightEven as employer social media policies are under scrutiny, and as the clash between Section 7 rights and employee confidentiality deepens, new apps make it easier for employees to take their gripes online for the world to view. One new app called “getthememo” allows users to post anonymous reviews of and complaints about their employers.

In this article by Bloomberg BNA, employment and labor law attorney Howard S. Lavin addresses the following questions:

What communications are protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act? How has social media affected the NLRB’s view of “protected concerted activities”? What types of social media activities are generally protected by the NLRA that employers have gotten into trouble with? What types of social media activities are mistakenly assumed to be

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Labor Relations Ink December 2014

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In this issue:

Japanese Firm Blinks UAW Strife in the South Union Pensions on the Ropes SEIU Has Dirty Hands in Ferguson Teamsters Beat, Sticky Fingers, Insight and more…

The bottom of each story contains a link to the individual post on our site.

Note from the editor:

Due to INK releasing a week early for the holidays, we don’t have all of the data in for a complete Scoreboard. We will release a separate email with the December Scoreboard when the data is available. Have a very Merry Christmas!


Labor Relations Insight by Phil Wilson

My favorite new movie (at least until this one comes out) is Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s action-packed, has great special effects, and is a thrill

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