OUR TIMES | Canada's Independent Labour Magazine

Talking About Organizing: A Series

This is an active online archive of commentaries and stories, first published in Our Times, about the experience of union organizing: what works and what doesn't. It's also the place where you'll find Our Times' columnist Derek Blackadder's WebWork series archived; articles about online resources for union activists.

"Organizing is important," writes labour educator Elaine Bernard in "The Power to Change Things." "But it needs to be more than simply signing up new members. Rather, the future of unions and their power rests with an informed, committed membership who understand that they are the union and that the power of the union rests with them."

If you would like to add to this discussion and submit a constructive commentary or story about organizing, contact the editor. Send an e-mail to editor@ourtimes.ca or call 902.755.6840

Mailing address:
"Talking About Organizing"
Our Times
P.O. Box 182
New Glasgow, Nova Scotia
B2H 5E2

Vol. 34 | Issue 2 | May/June 2015
By Melissa Keith
Haligonians know that Halifax Water workers are on 10 picket lines around the city, but Heather Corkum, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1431, wonders if residents know the whole truth about the situation.

Vol. 34 | Issue 1 | 2015
By Haseena Manek
The 30th annual Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts was held from May 1 to 14 in the Greater Toronto Area, and from April 30 to May 16 in Halifax. Visual arts exhibits, a walking tour, a film screening, theatre performances, concerts, and interactive community workshops were all part of the offerings. "Art is the best way to engage people," says Faith Nolan, one of six women recognized earlier this year by Mayworks for their outstanding contributions to the arts and the labour movement.

Vol. 34 | Issue 2 | 2015
By Steve Mantis
Karen Messing has spent almost 40 years doing research to protect workers' health. And she has done so by working directly with those affected: workers themselves. We have a lot to learn from her experiences.

Vol. 33 | Issue 5 | 2014
By Claire Mummé, Chris Ramsaroop and Melisa LaRue
There are few reported instances of alliances between migrant workers and Canadian workers, and of thinking about how the two groups could come together. In June of 2014, an opportunity arose to do just that in the Windsor-Essex region of Ontario.

Vol. 33 | Issue 3/4 | 2014
WEBWORK: Hashtag Hijinks & Facebook's Fast One
By Derek Blackadder
Hashtag hijacking, tweeting under a trending hashtag to serve your own agenda, is an underused tactic. There is some productive fun to be had for those who are a dab hand on the tweet button.

Vol. 33 | Issue 3/4 | 2014
CLIMATE/JUSTICE: No Time to Bury Debate
By Teresa Healy
It is very difficult to forge unity within Canada's large and geographically diverse labour movement around environmental issues. Nonetheless, we need to try.

Vol. 33 | Issue 2 | 2014
WEBWORK: Twitter Tips & Tweetfests
By Derek Blackadder
Unifor is applying the open-organizing approach to their online communications. Their monthly question-and-answer period with the union's president, on Twitter, is making a bit of a splash.

Vol. 33 | Issue 1 | 2014
WEBWORK: Mail Chimps & Changing Walmart
By Derek Blackadder
Tweets were tweeted. Flickr was deployed on strike days, as was Instagram. The result? One thousand five hundred actions (think about that for just a second) took place at 1,500 Walmart locations. Simultaneously. On the biggest day of the year for retail in the U.S.

Vol. 32 | Issue 6 | 2014
WEBWORK: Boosting Member Participation
By Derek Blackadder
The tech is there to allow for instant polling of union members about their reaction to a specific proposal. It has been for a while. How long before bargaining culture catches up?

Vol. 32 | Issue 5 | 2013
WEBWORK: Tech Tips & Tools for Change
By Derek Blackadder
Have pity on my tattered teeth: don't use Change.org to run an online action. Every time I see a union (or any other organization I approve of) using it to put some digital pressure on an employer I wind up grinding my teeth in frustration.