Archive for the ‘Labour Research’ Category

Twitter as a campaigning tool

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

The possibility of using Twitter as a campaigning tool was recently tested by LabourStart.
We were inspired by the example of American Rights at Work (ARAW), a union-supported campaigning organisation, that has recently taken on the American Chamber of Commerce (the equivalent of the CBI here in Britain) using Twitter.
ARAW took advantage of a new web service called ( that allows the instant creation of Twitter campaigns. (Their slogan is “Tweet change.”) They succeeded very quickly in mounting one of the largest campaigns ever using the microblogging service, with over 1,200 messages sent.
We decided to try the same thing in support of our more traditional global web and email campaign in support of striking Canadian workers at Vale Inco, a mining giant.


First ever global study of Twitter use by trade unionists

Monday, November 9th, 2009

In late October, LabourStart conducted the first-ever global study of the use of Twitter by trade unionists.
Nearly 1,600 trade unionists participated, with the largest single group (360) coming from the U.K.
While all those responding were online (the survey was conducted through a website and publicized by email), less than a third used Twitter. Less than 10% of those surveyed said they frequently sent out “tweets” (short messages sent through Twitter).


How to prevent catastrophic data loss on handheld devices

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

This article first appeared in Labour Research magazine.
In the course of the last decade, two colleagues of mine — both senior trade unionists — have suffered catastrophic losses of data. One lost his address book and calendar when his hand-held device died. The other lost all his handheld’s calendar entries when he synced the device to his desktop PC, which had contracted a virus, thereby wiping out what was on the handheld.
There are two important lessons I draw from these experiences.
First of all, backups are essential — but not in the way we used to do them.
And second, use of open source operating systems is no longer a luxury for the geeks.


Posterous: Email lists as starting point for net campaigning

Monday, October 5th, 2009

This article appears in the current issue of Labour Research.
To emphasize the importance of email, I used to tell unions that given the choice between a great website and a list of all members’ email addresses, choose the latter. I still believe that email is the most powerful tool we have and now, thanks to a new service called Posterous, email lists can be the starting point of a multi-platform net-based campaign.


Bread and Roses

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

This article appears in the current issue of Labour Research.
“It’s not enough for working people to feed our bodies with bread — we also have to nourish our hearts and spirits with art.”
Those words appear on the first page of an entire website devoted to working class art and culture — part of the website of the AFL-CIO, one of America’s national trade union centres.
This site-within-a-site (located here) exploits some of the advantages of the web, reproducing not only text but multimedia and interactive elements as well.


Coping with complexity: Integrated status updates using UnionBook, Facebook, Twitter and Blogs

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

The increasing diversity in the world of information and communications technology poses new challenges to trade unionists.


Smartphone apps: Where are the unions?

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

A few years ago, no one ever heard of a “smartphone”. A few years from now, every one of us will own one. This has implications for trade unions which we’re not yet facing up to.


Twitterfeed and RSS: Separating content from delivery of content

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

It seems like every day, there’s another way to publish information on the net. There are traditional websites, RSS feeds, Twitter, blogs, social networks, SMS text messages and of course email. Union members are using all of these to get their news and information. And union communicators may be finding it increasingly difficult to navigate their way through the complex choices involved.


Unionprofessionals – new website for people who work for unions

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009 is a new website built by the TUC for people who work for trade unions. Unlike the much-better known which is used by thousands of union reps across the UK, this site is aimed solely at those who are employed by unions.


Diigo: A Web 2.0 tool to get user input on your website

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

If you want to know how to make your union website better, ask your members. And if you really, really want it to be better, use the most powerful Web 2.0 tools to do so.