Knowledge Donors for Labor Fights


These days there are many new ways for people who are not members of a labor union to participate in the labor movement.
In addition to working with existing unions people can become members of Working America or join the OWS offshoot 99 Pickets.  If you work in the sector they represent you can join the Freelancers Union, OUR Walmart, Fast Food Forward or one of the many new worker centers like the Restaurant Opportunities Center. or Retail Action Project. Unions as well as these newer entities are all making calls for solidarity from the public in the form of petition signatures, help with picketing and demonstrations, boycotts, and help spreading the word on social media. But with rare exceptions, they do not have a structure for engaging with skilled volunteers – what many are calling knowledge donors.

Managing volunteers can be a challenge no matter what; but managing knowledge donors is a step beyond that. Organizations that have relied on groups of interchangeable supporters to show up at a certain time, perform an action, and then go home aren’t always able to handle individual volunteers with a specific skill. This can be complicated even more with tensions around volunteers who don’t represent your core constituency. What do you do with someone who isn’t even a member, might not come from the same community, and has a generational or class difference from the people they are trying to help? No wonder you won’t find many examples of knowledge donors in the labor world.

Organizing 2.0 is launching a new effort to recruit skilled volunteers who will be in service to labor and community organizing struggles. We’re looking specifically for digitally applicable skills, including social media proficiency, writing for the web, graphic design, online video, web development, trainers in digital tools and online advertising. These are the skill sets that (we observe) many union locals do not have. Even very large union locals are sometimes configured in such a way that staff are unable to run a real digital media campaign.

We have seen many cases where union locals go on strike — an action they have been preparing for for weeks or months — but don’t have a plan for social media outreach or any online communications. It’s only once the strike is imminent that they realize that they want additional support from the broader public and see the internet as a means for getting it and of putting pressure on the employer. However, the union local doesn’t have a plan for how to get that support or relationships with people who can help them. Sometimes they come to Organizing 2.0 for help at the last minute. We want to be able to do that at a larger scale. In particular, we want to help those who ‘don’t know who or how to ask.’

Our plan is to look for both knowledge donors and labor or community organizing fights that can benefit from them. By connecting and applying our knowledge and understanding of both labor and digital strategy, we can make a difference that is both meaningful and visible.

Of course, questions remain. Will we be able to recruit, train, manage and retain skilled volunteers? Will we find willing partners interested in their help? We think so but we’re not sure. As an organization run entirely by volunteers, everything we ever do has a certain question mark over it. But we do have a track record of training and engaging thousands of people at events over nearly four years. We’ve built an amazing Advisory Board (details coming soon!). And a great many of our peers working in the labor movement have offered encouragement and support for this new direction. Plus we’ve already done this on a micro scale for a few locals.

We can’t wait to find out. Meanwhile, everyone reading our post is encouraged to help us figure this out. Please – offer your suggestions and questions below, and sign up if you a)have skills and b)want to contribute them to help workers win labor fights.

Organizing 2.0 Fall Internship

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We’re pleased to announce our brand new internship program. Please help us share this posting widely. It’s an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in labor, progressive communications, local politics and digital strategy. (Download flyer here.)

Fall 2013 Internship Open in New York City

Do you support social justice, equality, and other progressive values? Do your friends rely on you for political news and current events? Do you regularly use social media, blogs, and your smartphone to make your voice heard?

Organizing 2.0 is a New York-based organization committed to building power for workers and community organizing groups. We’ve trained over 2000 people in the last three years to harness online tools for organizing – and we want you to join us. [BTW, read what former interns have to say about working with us…]

What’s in it for me?

Our interns will be helping to organize training events, our annual organizing training conference, and using our tools in support of local labor struggles that need us. We’re a lean organization run by volunteers, which means you’ll have plenty of serious responsibilities, if you can handle them. No fetching coffee or photocopying in our office!

The ideal candidate is comfortable with technology, activism and progressive politics. Our ideal candidate wants to make a difference – strengthening labor groups and unions, helping marginalized people organizing from below and progressive political groups fighting for the 99%.

What You Will Learn:

  • How to plan and manage professional events from A to Z
  • Organizing software and tools including Salsa, Bit.ly, Google Analytics, WordPress, Thunderclap and more
  • The makeup of New York’s and America’s progressive movement(s), including labor, community organizing, and
  • progressive infrastructure
  • The basics of online marketing as applied towards social good
  • Nonprofit management skills

What We Require:

  • Knowledge of current events and comfort with social media
  • A passion for progressive political change
  • Highly organized, with an ability to prioritize time-sensitive assignments
  • Fearlessness – not afraid to be a bold and outside the box thinker
  • Honesty and integrity in fulfilling your commitments

It Would Be Great If You Could:

  • Use graphics, video editing and web development software
  • Point to previous leadership experience in clubs, student government and community groups

We strongly encourage applicants of diverse backgrounds to apply (PoC, LGBT, Differently Abled, or Undocumented.)

This is a rolling admission – we accept new interns during August and September.

  • Minimum commitment is 15 hours/week, preference for 20-40
  • 12 week minimum
  • Stipends of $500-$1000 a month available (25 hours/week and up)
  • Suitable for school credit in a variety of majors

To apply, click here. No phone calls or emails please.

Organizing 2.0 is a collective of communicators and online organizers working for unions and social justice groups. We run events, trainings, consult and promote uncommon interactions within and between our communities. We cross boundaries between labor, progressives, nonprofits, tech firms, faith communities and techies of all stripes. We are located near Union Square in a co-working facility.

Commitment to Intern Rights. We believe that many internships are exploitative and amount to unpaid slave labor imposed on young people interested in interesting and challenging careers. Our commitment is that you will not be performing the job of a paid staff person, this will be primarily a learning experience, and you will be treated at all times with respect.