Today virtually every American adult owns a cellphone and 80% own a smartphone. Cell phones are used for many more things than making phone calls. Cell phones are connected through Short-message-service (SMS) which allows users to easily send and receive text messages. This basic technology built directly into the phone has become a critical and helpful tool for communicating and organizing workers. If used responsibly it can help locals communicate efficiently and effectively with their members.
An SMS platform is a low cost technology that enables two-way communication between individuals. The features of the technology are extremely limited, which is an advantage, as it can be deployed in a variety of situations and locations. Establishing an ongoing communication link between workers and their union reps provides a mechanism for which information can be collected or conveyed continuously, which traditional organizing techniques cannot do.
Relaying information to members (i.e., reminding them of an upcoming event/vote or encouraging them to take advantage of an existing service) can be done using mass SMS. A simple message can be sent out at once to thousands of members. Mass messaging saves time, allowing you to communicate to all your members in minutes rather than hours.
These technologies cannot supplement traditional organizing efforts but they can help enable leadership to connect with a wide range of their members and help workers attempting to organize to safely and easily connect with each other. Security for workers and protecting their data is critical. Before deploying any SMS tool it’s critical to ensure that the system is secure like the system we use at Unionly. You can learn more about our mass messaging product here.
For more background on the pitfalls and opportunities around SMS technology for worker organizing, we recommend this blog.
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