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American trade unionists attempting to mobilize the Internet
Date 08/12/25/23:02
[Les Echos 12/16/08 machine-translated from the French]

American trade unionists attempting to mobilize the Internet
At a time when the crisis raged, a growing number of union activists predict new technologies to make their organizations more relevant. But the task is heavy.

Since January, more than 1.9 million Americans have lost their jobs. And 533,000 jobs were lost in November. The never-seen since 1974. Detroit at San Francisco, the uncertainty and social plans succeed, affecting even values, as the telecom operator ATT, which will abolish 12,000 posts. Like the Great Depression, the crisis suggests the emergence of a population attempted to mobilize. The American unions could jump at the opportunity. In particular advantage of the formidable effectiveness of the Web to inform, mobilize and organize teams. Especially as employees, they have the appropriate tools Web 2.0. Like the employees of large retailers ( or railroad ( have launched their own sites sharing information.

For unions, the task is Herculean. America has no less than 25,000 organizations! But for now, only 8% of private sector employees are unionized. "Trade unions in the United States have a bad reputation, saidPriyanka Joshi, director of communications WashTech, a union of professionals in the U.S. high-tech sector. And trade union organizations are systematically associated with workers. But white-collar workers also need to mobilize. "

Hence the idea to turn the tide. And to go bring the good word where WashTech is most likely to find its target audience - young, mobile and adept in information technology. The organization, which has fewer than 1,500 members, has just opened an account on Facebook. Priyanka Joshi runs a stand there interactive target to reach its young programmers. "We are still at the experimental stage, but if it works, it will also go on other social networks," says Rennie Sawade, technology director of WashTech. The union also plans to use Twitter, the SMS which is collective rage in technology circles.
Distrust Leaders

"All unions are different and it is important for them to adapt their communication strategies in their audience," says Steve Dondley, founder and CEO of Prometheus Labor, a website development and interactive applications for trade unions . Meanwhile, the president of the union electricians IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), Ed Hill, conducted chat sessions on the, the site of the IBEW, is decorated with blogs, chats and weekly video broadcast on YouTube.

In fact, the Web democratized access to information, bypassing the traditional hierarchical structures. An asset base to build upon. "We are witnessing the rapid growth of small initiatives of local organizations and members seeking to make their voices heard regardless of leadership in creating, for example, discussion forums rudimentary but very alive , "Says Matt Noyes, technology director of the Association for Union Democracy, an independent organization that defends the democratic process within the unions.

Yet, only a few hundred unions have made the leap. Proponents of the Internet face of autocratic culture major unions, led by a generation unfamiliar information technology. For these leaders, distrust premium to a tool that is a direct threat to their control of information and their authority over their organization."Major unions have not seized the opportunities offered by mobilization Web, said Steve Dondley. These are still big bureaucracies installed in Washington. "But, ultimately, the development of Web usage will force more transparency," he says. The ubiquity of the Web in daily life and in the workplace is such that trade unions can not long continue to ignore this tool, under penalty of losing legitimacy definitely already started long.


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