Anheuser–Busch InBev Metal Container Corporation in Newburgh:
Location: Newburgh, New York
Union: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) http://www.ibew.org/IBEW/index.htm
The Non-union workers of the Anheuser-Busch InBev Metal Container Corporation, who make cans for Budweiser and other beer companies, were worried about their jobs when their company was sold to a Belgian group in 2008. In an attempt to organize to protect their jobs, the workers contacted the local IBEW chapter for support. Many of the workers in the plant were worried about their union activity due to pressure from their employers, so it became difficult to organize large groups of factory workers. Because of this situation, organizers created an anonymous blog on which workers and organizers could debate, share concerns, and eventually organize to protect their jobs. This became an effective way to organize workers the fear of union busting or threats from employers. Continue reading
Union One’s main campaign, called “Bad for Indiana,” targets the “Right-to-Work” (RTW) within the state (http://www.union1.org/badforindiana/). If the law is enacted, Indiana University and other state workers will see a significant decline in wages and benefits. According to a publishing on the Union One website, the average full-time worker in an RTW state makes $1500 dollars less annually than a similar worker in a non-RTW state. Continue reading
I had a chance to talk with Sam Fratto today about IBEW Local 363’s innovative use of an anonymous blog in organizing 164 employees of an InBev can factory in the Hudson River Valley. Sam is a dedicated lifelong union organizer and a passionate speaker, and IBEW’s use of the anonymous blog in helping these workers organize is really innovative and impressive. The ability of workers to talk about dynamics in the workplace, and discuss issues around the union drive, anonymously without fear of reprisal, sounds like it was a really critical part of the campaign.
This experience contrasts a bit with many other stories about the power of social media in social movement organizing, in which the increased visibility–and lack of anonymity–has been important. The case that came to mind today was Continue reading
So….this story isn’t really about labor organizing, but it is about a really interesting use of new media. The challenge to “do something good…famously” was provided by an advertising agency to their interns. The interns decided that “…famous was just another way of saying make people listen. Go big. Be heard. Make real change.”
The result was Underheard in New York, an initiative to help make heard the voices of homeless people in New York City by giving four homeless residents of NYC prepaid cell phones and Twitter accounts. While “fighting homelessness 140 characters at a time” may sound like an advertising slogan, consider that Continue reading
Bill Hurley, posting on the Wisconsin Education Association Council’s website, writes that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts would cost him and his wife over $10,000 a year. The Council is fighting the Governor’s move to “strip government workers of union rights in the first state to grant them more than a half-century ago” with on-the-ground and social media strategies, including a facebook page, which more than 5,000 people have joined.
February 2010 –
Strikes in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)
The UFCW strike vote occurred after company negotiators insisted that union workers increase contributions to their health insurance and pension plans. According to union reps, the company also had been unwilling to give annual wage increases and wanted employees to accept bonuses instead. The strike was eventually averted with negotiations that centered on wage increases and health insurance contributions.