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Hatching Ideas?

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The recent Supreme Court decision on the ability of unions to collect dues seems to be another blow to labor's ability to effectively organize. An article in the July 7-14 issue of The Nation makes a suggestion that Labor may wish to take a page from an unlikely place, Silicon Valley.

David Rolf, President of Service Employees International Union 775NW, proposes that labor put some of it's resources into an incubator. The article mentions several ideas that might have some potential; a rating service for employers, along the lines of Yelp, etc, a petition tool, similar to Change.org, and a community-based model for labor law enforcement. I could see an anonymous app being set up as a way to "blow the whistle" on employers that are cheating workers out of wages, denying breaks, etc.

I could also see other ideas that might be strong enough to get some "seed money". One would be to create a labor-based and labor centered web radio station; give folks like Rick Smith, Jim Hightower, etc a larger platform. A second would be more of an enhancement, to take the unionjobs.com website and make it more along the lines of Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com, with the ability of candidates to create profiles, and employers to search them.

One of the more ambitious projects, especially in light of the activity over net neutrality,could be to create a labor-friendly and labor-centered Internet Service Provider. What better way to keep Comcast, etc from slowing down dissenting voices than to have a "fast lane" for labor. If possible, American made servers could be used, and the employees would be under collective bargaining.

One need only look to see the success of the "Alt-labor" movement to see that bringing new technology and social media driven tactics may be a way for labor to become more nimble and agile.

July 23 brings the annual Community Services Institute to Pittsburgh, PA. On Friday, July 18, some members of the Harrisburg Central Labor Council demonstrated an example of the kind of outreach that this even is trying to foster. With the State AFL-CIO "Rally Vehicle" as a backdrop, the Harrisburg CLC competed in the 18th Annual United Way of the Capitol Region Tricycle race.

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