Virtual Labor Organizing


All around us, online technology has disrupted business models and entire industries virtually overnight, dramatically changing the landscape for consumers and workers alike.
With just one click, you can summon a cab through Uber. At two clicks, Venmo allows you to instantly send cash to your kid away at college. At three clinks, Turbo Tax is preparing your returns, and at four clicks, you are on LegalZoom drafting your last will and testament. What if with five clicks, you and your coworkers could petition the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to schedule a union election?
Due to a little-known, but far-reaching change made by the NLRB last year, virtual labor organizing by employees is now sanctioned by law in many situations and could possibly be transformative in the workplace.
Many employees want more clout at work—to leverage better pay and benefits, but also nonmonetary things, such as more predictable work schedules, or a stronger voice in workplace safety or procedures. And it is a good bet that many would join a union, if signing up were easier for workers to do, and harder for employers to stop.
The problem today is that joining a union at work is decidedly last century—clunky, contentious, confusing—and companies such as Walmart and McDonald’s want to keep it that way.
But virtual labor organizing could change that.