Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The internet proves it's good for something

Here's a story from Mike Hall that really made my day:

In Newburgh, N.Y., last spring, workers at an Anheuser–Busch InBev’s Metal Container Corp. plant—where a previous organizing attempt drew intense management harassment and the firings of some workers—employees reached out to Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 363.

But as the IBEW Now News Blog reports:

The fear of captive-audience meetings, harassment and other actions by the employer left many at the plant wary of how to press forward without management sidelining their efforts.

So organizers got crafty and set up a special blog strictly for the 164 employees to debate, strategize, air concerns and ultimately come together for victory, all while avoiding many of the union-busting tactics so common in most campaigns.

Lead organizer Sam Fratto says the blog was like having a “24-hour-a-day union and campaign meeting.” Because of their past experience, workers were:

afraid to talk among themselves on the floor. But this time with the blog, nobody’s jobs were in jeopardy because management couldn’t single out who was for or against the union.

Over the course of the summer, the blog became an online meeting spot for the 164 workers, who knew plant management was monitoring the blog. But despite management’s efforts to hone in on pro-union workers, captive-audience meetings couldn’t refute what the workers were reading and commenting about on the blog. Says Fratto:

The company tried to get people to spill info about the campaign, but the workers just stayed silent. And since nobody’s wearing T-shirts or handing out stickers or fliers, who could they put the pressure on? Nobody.

In August, the workers voted overwhelmingly to join IBEW and are now in contract talks.
Of course working anonymously online won't protect you from spies and traitors. Yet it's not too easy for companies to find willing spies. Photographing license plates of cars, turning into the union hall parking lot, was always an effective way to intimidate workers. I'm sure people are already spending money on figuring out ways to illegally track their workers' online activities.

1 comment:

mlee33 said...

Awesome story! I wish there were more like it.