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New Report Says Virtual Labor Organizing Could Be Key In Organizing New Workers

Virtual Organizing

The Century Foundation has a new report suggesting that virtual labor organizing could be the key to getting a new generation of workers to join unions.

According to the report, “Organizing a union through the use of online tools would allow employees to band together in a more organic, grassroots effort that does not require outside help to get things started. The goal of virtual organizing would be to innovate and experiment with a new platform that is faster, homegrown, and simplified for workers to gain influence at work. Given how much today’s workers rely on information technology to do their jobs, there might be significant receptivity to this new online tool.”

The virtual online organizing tool would work through a new, state-of-the-art virtual platform that would allow average employees in workplaces across the country to organize and join a labor union with much more ease. A well-designed platform would avoid many of the roadblocks that employers often throw down when they see efforts to organize.

The platform would provide an interactive, step-by-step process so that employees know what to expect at each stage, and how to handle hurdles that may arise. It would be designed to help workers engage with other employees as well as form an organizing committee, create instructions for beginning and carrying on all facets of the organizing campaign, automatically file petitions and forms with the NLRB upon the show of sufficient support, and it would even offer model agreements on issues such as wages, benefits, scheduling policies, and health and retirement plans.

Indianapolis Retail Workers, Allies, Mobilize for Bill of Rights

Lift-RetailOn June 17, members of the newly formed Lift Retail Jobs Campaign, held a press conference to highlight the economic plight of local retail workers and  unveiled a Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights. The Lift Retail Jobs Campaign is a coalition of retail workers, local businesses, and community groups who  have a vested interest in improving the quality of retail jobs in Indianapolis.

The newly launched campaign is challenging retailers in Indianapolis to be better corporate citizens and support a Bill of Rights for retail workers which  promotes workplace protections so that all workers in this growing industry have a pathway to the middle class. The workplace protections include full-time work and access to hours; fair scheduling practices; access to healthcare benefits; and paid sick leave for both full and part-time workers.

Debra Hill, a retail worker with more than 20 years of experience in the industry, addressed the media and the assembled crowd of nearly 100 workers  and community supporters.

“We’re finally seeing jobs being created in our city again, but they’re mostly in these low-wage industries, like fast food, retail, and service work,” Hill said. “Our city can’t recover while hardworking people are paid poverty wages.”

Hill presented members of the Indianapolis City-County Council, including Pamela Hickman, Monroe Gray, and Kip Tew, with a copy of the Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights.

The retail industry in Indianapolis is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy and a significant employer of women and people of color; but many of these jobs are low-wage, part-time positions with erratic hours that are preventing retail workers from climbing up the economic ladder. A recent study conducted by the research and policy center Demos and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) notes that, nationwide, people of color in the retail industry are often relegated to lower-paid positions and given fewer hours. Thirty percent of women in the retail industry live in poverty or near poverty.

Jessica Dixon has 16 years of retail experience in Indianapolis. “When you work in the retail industry, you sacrifice so much for so little. The pay is low, scheduling is unpredictable, we don’t share in the company’s success when they profit, and we’re treated like we’re disposable,” Dixon said.  “A Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights would protect our rights and make it possible for people like me to imagine a future in this industry.”

For more information about the Lift Retail Jobs Campaign and the Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights, visit www.LiftRetailJobs.org.

Workers at Cannabis Club Collective Approve First-Ever Washington State Contract

Cannabis Club

Workers at the Cannabis Club Collective, a medical marijuana dispensary in Tacoma, Wash., have approved the first-ever union contract for cannabis workers in Washington state and have joined UFCW Local 367. The vote to approve the contract was unanimous, and sets a new standard for cannabis workers in Washington.

“We’re going to set a high bar for our industry with a contract that’s fair to both workers and to owners,” said Tim Moisio, a four year employee and member of the bargaining committee. “Cannabis jobs should be good, family-supporting jobs and our contract ensures that.”

The three-year contract includes regular raises, affordable health insurance, paid vacations and sick leave, as well as seniority and grievance protections. It also will include a pension plan to guarantee secure retirements beginning in 2017.

“Workers have rights regardless of the industry they are in,” said UFCW Local 367’s President Denise Jagielo, “we look forward to working with the members at Triple C, and other dispensaries, to protect their wages and benefits, and to create a safe work environment.”

“The whole process has been outstanding,” said Moisio. “We’re looking forward to standing together in our union for years to come.”