Social Media and Worker Organizing Under U.S. Law
International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations, Forthcoming
26 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2018 Last revised: 9 Nov 2018
Date Written: October 19, 2018
In recent years, a number of important social movements have emerged and grown rapidly through social media. Against that backdrop, this essay considers the promise and limitations of social media as a means for worker organizing under U.S. law. On the one hand, social media is a powerful tool of worker self-organization, and of building public support for workers’ rights. U.S. law also prohibits employers from retaliating against workers for such self-organization or public speech, which should encourage workers to organize via social media. On the other hand, that prohibition is often more formal than real, and U.S. law makes it extremely difficult for workers to organize a union and begin collective bargaining. In other words, U.S. law encourages workers’ initial, nascent steps toward collective organization, and encourages them to build public support for their efforts, but discourages the actual formation of unions. Therefore, social media’s potential as a worker organizing tool will likely remain underdeveloped without reforms to strengthen and modernize our labor laws.
Keywords: social media, labor law, labour law, union organizing
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