Co-operatives, Work, and the Digital Economy surveys recent literature on the formation of co-operatives as a strategy to improve work and livelihoods in the digital economy. The report is guided by questions such as: What groups of workers have turned to the co-operative model in the digital economy? Do co-operatives have the capacity to mitigate precarity, deepen worker engagement, and combat inequality in the gig economy and digital creative industries? If co-ops are a promising means to improve livelihoods and democratize work, what are the obstacles to increasing their uptake? And what initiatives and policies have been advanced to foster supportive co-operative infrastructure in the digital age?
The scope, unevenness, and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on cultural work has been widely acknowledged. This article turns to how sections of the cultural industries responded to the onset of this crisis. We gathered news reports, impact survey results, policy recommendations, open letters, event announcements, and other grey literature generated by a range of organizations in the cultural sector, including trade unions, professional associations, and activist groups. Framed by the concepts "labouring of culture" and "policy from below," our thematic analysis of this material reveals that cultural workers responded to the pandemic by surfacing the idea of cultural production as work; by enacting practices of care and mutual aid; and by proposing policy changes. These collective responses are marked by multiple tensions, particularly between rehabilitating the status quo in the cultural sector and radically reimagining it for a post-COVID-19 world.
The future of journalism as a site of sustainable careers and a potentially democratic form of communication depends on collective organization. While unionizing cannot solve all of journalism’s problems, our study reaffirms the defensive and transformative power of collective organization in journalism, as reflected in unions’ use of the bargaining process to reduce journalists’ precarity by raising standards in media work. This chapter examines how workers are collectively responding to unstable careers, low pay, intense work pressures, and race- and gender-based inequities through unionization.
Since 2015, well over 100 media outlets have unionized. Thousands of media workers have taken collective action to improve their working conditions. They are starting unions to win fairness, dignity, and a stronger voice at work. This video shows what’s behind the organizing wave in digital media, how workers organized their unions, and what they won by unionizing.
A hybrid co-op primer and research report, Sharing Like We Mean It: Working Co-operatively in the Cultural and Tech Sectors is based on a survey of more than 100 co-operatives in Canada, the UK, and the US. It offers a snapshot of the co-op landscape in creative industries, explores what co-operative work can look like in practice, and features profiles of several worker co-ops. Our survey results confirm that the co-operative model is a promising strategy for mitigating individualized patterns of work, democratizing work relationships, and providing satisfying work in creative industries contexts.
From BuzzFeed to the Los Angeles Times, over 60 newsrooms have unionized since 2015. What began as a flash of organizing by digital-first journalists has become a full-blown movement to unionize journalism, primarily in the United States. New Media Unions: Organizing Digital Journalists documents a historic and ongoing moment in the digital media industry that has brought thousands of media workers into the labour movement. Nicole Cohen and Greig de Peuter examine what motivates union drives, then follow journalists through the making of a union from scratch. They explore how journalists strategically self-organize, apply their communication skills to alternative ends, generate affective bonds of solidarity, and build power to confront anti-union campaigns and bargain first contracts, winning significant gains and drafting a new labour code for journalism in a digital age.
At a moment of tremendous flux in journalism, unions are trending in newsrooms. In conjunction with the publication of our book New Media Unions: Organizing Digital Journalists, we have produced a timeline of the ongoing movement to unionize journalism, particularly in the United States. Since 2015, thousands of media workers have joined the Writers Guild of America, East, branches of The NewsGuild (Communication Workers of America), and the Canadian Media Guild (CWA Canada). Journalists are organizing to improve working conditions in a tumultuous sector of the media economy. But the union drives have also had broader aims: to expand racial and gender diversity in newsrooms, to support editorial independence, to protect local journalism, and to give workers a stronger voice in their newsrooms.
On 20 September 2018, W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy), an artist-initiated activist organization based in New York City, launched WAGENCY. Countering unpaid work in the arts, the WAGENCY platform gives artists digital tools to request payment for their contributions to US nonprofit galleries and museums - from a solo exhibition to an artist’s talk. “W.A.G.E. is not an artwork,” W.A.G.E. insisted when it announced WAGENCY. This refusal to be misclassified as an art project highlights W.A.G.E.’s activist intentions: to transform prevailing institutional practices through collective action. This chapter positions W.A.G.E. as an alternative worker organization - albeit one whose strategies are shaped by the specific conditions of the art field, the economic habits of which W.A.G.E. has worked for more than a decade to reform.
In mid-March of this year, 35,000-40,000 students at CÉGEPs (pre‑university and technical colleges) and universities across Quebec went on strike for a week. Unlike the 2012 strike which was led by Coalition Large de l’ASSÉ (CLASSE), this year’s action was developed around a different organizing model and critique of the post-secondary education system in the province. The rebellion against tuition hikes and the theme of student debt at the heart of the 2012 strike have been replaced by a different analysis, one which places unwaged work at the center of the movement’s organizing. Inspired by the perspectives of autonomist-feminist organizers of the 1970s, the Comités Unitaires sur le Travail Étudiant (Student Work Unitary Committees, CUTE) have advanced a critique of the unwaged internships which are a key mechanism for the insertion of workers into labor markets. [...] Elizabeth Sarjeant and Enda Brophy interviewed Jeanne Bilodeau and Éloi Halloran on March …
The platforms we have surveyed here are but one piece of an emergent and highly varied set of communicative responses by workers to a new organization of labour markets, technologies, and processes. While promising in many respects, they have not yet reached the requisite scale to take part in sweeping wins for labour. All of them, however, display a common set of goals revolving around the establishment of an independent digital infrastructure for horizontal communication among workers and/or for promoting public contestation of corporate communications. As such, these labour organizing platforms have the potential to counteract the disempowering communicative logics of the labour management systems at platform companies.