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. 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.

Vol. 32 | Issue 4 | 2013
WEBWORK: Meeting Members' Needs
By Derek Blackadder
I can't recall the last time I saw a campaign mailing from a union, aimed at either the public or its own members, that offered to meet a need. In comparison with the "look at us" triumphalist variety of union messages, they have been few in number.

Vol. 32 | Issue 3 | 2013
WEBWORK: The Digital Divide Where We Live
By Derek Blackadder
The digital divide isn't a Global South vs. Global North thing. It's a "my neighbourhood" thing, and it remains a consideration for anyone campaigning broadly, and, in some campaigns, it is a key consideration.

Vol. 32 | Issue 2 | 2013
WEBWORK: Take Back the Net
By Derek Blackadder
Always implicit, and sometimes embarrassingly explicit, in the online utopian screeds of the '90s was the hope or assumption that nastiness like racism and sexism were ideological impositions on workers and that, once free of corporate media, we'd be free of that, too. Nice sentiment.