To those of us concerned with economic justice, the alarming pace with which anti-worker legislation is being tabled regularly in state houses, parliaments, congresses, and legislatures across the globe should be provoking much more than a few raised eyebrows.
Labo(u)r, has historically been our strongest tool for building a middle class, and reducing the kind of widespread poverty that used to characterize western society.
If we are determined to resist downwards pressures on wages, endless cuts to benefits, and precarious part-time work we must be ready for the next chapter of the struggle.
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Many of our progressive organizing models have come out of the valuable experience that unions have had with engaging large groups of people to win important campaigns like: an 8 hour workday or a five day work week. These were accomplished with tried and true methods we still use today: canvassing, leafletting, organizing events and rallies, and empowering workers to publish our side of the story.
Today’s digital demographic shift provides yet another opportunity for unions to lead in the new era of organizing. This work is critically important, and we were honoured to have the privilege of teaming up with the BCGEU to achieve an ambitious vision:
The most technologically advanced union in North America.
That’s why we’re excited to roll out BCGEU’s brand new Member Portal—a NationBuilder powered digital shop floor for the 21st century workers. Since the days of physical copies of member records has long past us, many labour unions have found themselves dependent on the employers for critical information about their members.
In order to protect the interests of working people our first task was to reduce this dependency by removing the barriers to direct contact between the Union and its members.
The concept was basic: if we recreate the experience of major social media platforms and offer incentives for participation in the Member Portal—users will feel compelled to (over)share information about themselves. So what did we look for in recreating this feel?
Secure, private, confidential
The Members Portal uses NationBuilder tags, and unique IDs to authorize ONLY confirmed BCGEU members to the platform, and thanks to NationBuilder’s secure datacenter the BCGEU has total peace of mind about their members’ information.
Ask, and ye shall receive
The #1 way to get information from people is to ask directly. Terribly awkward at the doorstep or on the street, but 100% painless thanks to the impersonal feel of technology. We used NationBuilder surveys to create a custom widget on the home page that serves a valuable poll each time right at the top of the page.
Personalize targeted asks
No matter where you go on the Member Portal, if you have not updated your information fully you are followed by your incomplete profile, judgy progress bar and all. Here the true power of NationBuilder comes out to shine: displaying dynamic content on the front end based on a user’s back-end record in the CRM. This enables the BCGEU to serve a customized ask for the information that is missing, instead of asking everyone for their address.
Must speak Narwhal
Perhaps the most important criteria for the project was to enable strong data structure consistency, in order to make all the valuable new member information fully compatible with the BCGEU’s existing database warehouse. This means that the union is able to enrich traditional data collection methods with good Member Portal information harvest for maximum data accuracy without creating endless dupes and bad data.
This resurgent attack on labour must not only be repelled to best of our abilities: but we must develop new strategies to adequately foil attempts to undermine unions before they get started.
In 2016, thanks to the BCGEU we take an important first step in addressing this power imbalance in our workplaces through superior technology and tactics.
Interested in beefing up your data for your next big organizing drive, campaign, or election? I'd love to help.