Date of Degree
Data Analysis & Visualization
Communication Technology and New Media | Graphic Communications | Social Influence and Political Communication
The strength of a labor union comes from the participation and engagement of its members. In her book No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age, Jane McAlevey says, “Since organizing’s primary purpose is to change the power structure away from the 1% to more like the 90%, majorities are always the goal: the more people, the more power. The first test of this strength for a budding union is for the workers to declare that they want to be unionized. Over fifty percent support is required for the union to be recognized. To even hold an election, you need thirty percent support. But what if only twenty-five percent of the workers have signed authorization cards? Unfortunately, knowing that only 25% of a bargaining unit has signed cards only says that 25% of the bargaining unit has signed cards. But why 25%? Where are the other 75%? Has anyone on the organizing committee talked to them to hear their concerns? Are the people they trust in their department on board? Have they been invited to meetings? Do they even know that the group is unionizing? Through vigilant spreadsheet management, note taking and creative visualizations, unionists can use data to illuminate meaningful insights beyond statistics. Data for Power (https://data-for-power.shay.dev) is a resource to help organizers and workers do just that. The center of the project is the Bubble Chart, a tool that gives visual texture to workplaces. It takes spreadsheets full of disparate organizing notes, and turns them into an intuitive, insightful and useful graphic. Zoomed out, the chart shows trends among grouped workers via variations in color. Zoomed in, there are details about individuals, such as what work actions they have participated in, what issues they care about or when they were last contacted by a coworker about the union. This is invaluable for helping leaders in their workplace organize their co-workers without leaving anyone behind.
Culpepper, Shay, "Data for Power: A Visual Tool for Organizing Unions" (2022). CUNY Academic Works.
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