Slow News by Forest Gregg
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February 4th, 2022 - Weeknotes

February 04, 2022

Labor Data

This week I got the FOIA for voluntary recognition notices filed with the NLRB in the fourth quarter of 2021. This meant we had the first full year of data since notice program restarted in the fall of 2020.

Daily Union Elections had sent me a spreadsheet of voluntary recognitions that they had collected from twitter for the first nine months of 2021. I took this opportunity to compare the data sets.

Daily Union Elections found 55 recognitions. For the same period, the first nine months of 2021, NLRB received 77 recognition notices.

Only nine recognitions appeared in both sets.

I knew that the NLRB-filed recognition notices were just a subset of all notices, but that this overlap was so small made me think that it’s probably a small subset.

As it is, the 2021 NLRB-filed notices includes recognitions that cover at least 9,337 workers, which is just about a third of the workers that won a certified representative in an NLRB election in 2021.

According to Professor Kate Bronfenbrenner, since the 1990’s more than half of newly organized private-sector workers were organized outside of an NLRB election.

If that pattern holds, then we don’t really have data on about two-thirds of voluntary recognitions, and are missing data on about third of all private-sector organizing. Given overall trends in organizing, it’s likely that these are underestimates.

Basically, there are two ideas for filling this lacuna (see thread):

  1. Try to find units that have filed a notice to bargain with the FMCS that do not appear in the NLRB data
  2. Survey unions

As of right now, we really don’t have a good understanding of the trends in union organizing. We have great data on NLRB-election organizing, but that may be a small part of the overall picture.

Reflections on Weeknotes

This is my fourth week of doing these weeknotes. I’ve enjoyed doing them, but I’m not sure they are serving the purpose of reflecting on my labor.

Most of my working hours involves client meetings, project planning, writing scopes, writing emails, and managing staff. I haven’t written anything about any of those things.

Instead, I’ve written about little pieces of technology or what I’m learning on projects that are not for a client.

This is not really because these are the things that I am doing every week that I think are most interesting, but because I think they are subjects about which I can write something shortish that would be interesting to an audience, and which pose no risks to any relationship.

For me, it’s hard to abstract and decontextualize the relational work that I do enough that I could describe something I learned in enough generality that I could explain what I learned and why it is interesting outside the specifics of those relationships.

Even if I undertook that effort though, it feels risky to be more transparent about how I think about clients, project management, or staff development. Even if I successfully decontextualize, my clients, partners, and staff might recognize themselves in my reflections, and may not like how I see things.

But given those fears, and that my main labor is so relational, a public weeknotes is probably not the right venue for reflecting on the core of my actual work.