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Labor Relations 101. A Primer for the New Economy. Dr. Gina Neff Assistant Professor University of California, San Diego. Agenda. 1. Why IGDA can’t negotiate for you Union Basics 2. Why unions would love for you to unionize Context of the New Economy 3. Why you might love other options

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Labor Relations 101

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Labor Relations 101

A Primer for the New Economy

Dr. Gina Neff Assistant ProfessorUniversity of California, San Diego


Agenda

1. Why IGDA can’t negotiate for you

  • Union Basics

    2. Why unions would love for you to unionize

  • Context of the New Economy

    3. Why you might love other options

  • Challenges & innovative solutions

    4. Why don’t you talk about it?

  • Brainstorming on Collective QoL solutions


Union basics

Rights to a Union

“the policy of the United States [is] to encourage the practice and procedure of collective bargaining”

National Labor Relations Act


“From the folks who brought you the weekend”


Union basics

Forming a union. . .(the optimistic version)

  • A majority of people decide they want representation

  • A company can then chose to recognize the union

  • Everyone works happily ever after


Union basics

(the pessimistic and, sadly, often realistic version)

  • NLRA law has been gutted

  • Companies routinely break the law to stop union drives

  • Even when union organizing drives win, companies often refuse to bargain in good faith


Union basics

Steps for forming a union

  • Figure out the right “international”

    • Communication Workers of America seems a good fit

  • Learn skills for talking with co-workers

    • Training from union organizers can be key

  • Figure out the long-term campaign strategy (3 years is optimistic)


Union basics

Tools for forming a union

Communication Workers of America

www.cwa-union.org

  • Experience working with technology workers

  • Incorporating new models of unionism

  • Has organizing mission

  • Union organizers can help training for campaigns

    AFL-CIO

    www.aflcio.org

  • General information and history

  • Ideas for how to talk to co-workers


Other union resources

  • Labourstart.org (notice British sp.)

  • Biglabor.com

  • Troublemakers’ Handbook by Jane Slaughter


From the CWA organizing webpage


New Economy Context

The Union movement needs you

  • Changing nature of the US workplace

  • Address issues in non-industrial context

  • Organizing energy

  • Declining union membership

    • “Gamers of the World Unite” is a PR coup!


New Economy Context

But can unions handle the challenge?

  • Industrial model of organizing

    • “hot shops”

  • Ability to manage flexibility

    • European experience with technical unions


New Economy Context

Can an organizing drive work?

  • “Venture Labor”

    • Volatile combination of creativity and entrepreneurial behavior

  • Flexibility

    • Turnover

    • Project-based work

    • Studio size

  • “Permanently Beta”

    • People have to adapt to ever changing technologies

  • “Heterachy”

    • Less hierarchy may pose a problem for collective answers


Challenges & Innovations

Solutions-based models for the New Economy

Problem One:

Benefits tied to jobs

  • Clear advantages to freelancing for people in many industries

  • Freelancers often lack benefits

  • Savings from “group buying” of insurance often not available to those who are in “non-standard” employment


Challenges & Innovations

Solution: Offer a way for freelancers to buy coverage

  • Membership Organization of “Freelancer Union”

  • Services independent workers need

  • Savings on Health Insurance

  • Advocacy on Issues


Challenges & Innovations

Problem Two: Inequality in the Tech-workers

  • The problem of “Permatemps”

  • Outsourcing issues and age discrimination

  • Training costs often high for individuals

  • No collective voice for problems of high-tech workers


Challenges & Innovations

Solution: Offer a membership-based union

  • Avoids problem of individual “shops”

  • Avoids problem of defining the bargaining unit and the lengthy certification process

  • Advocates explicitly for workers in the industry


From Techsunite.org


Other solutions

Advocacy groups

  • Cyberlodge, Cyberlodge.org CPSR, etc.

    Freelance cooperatives

  • Paneris, paneris.org


Collective models do work in the new economy

Unions provide one kind of support but are not the only solution

Ultimately for any collective solution to work people have to build and buy into them


Gina Neff University of California, San Diego

ginasue@panix.com


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