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November 2016
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Labor Unions Use Tech Tools to Organize

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Walmart is encouraging managers to discourage workers from downloading a smartphone app designed by OUR Walmart, an organization advocating for workers rights. The app, released earlier this month, allows employees to chat among themselves and receive advice on workplace policies or legal rights. The store has instructed managers to communicate to employees that the company does not sanction the app, and it is a scheme to gather employees' personal information. OUR Walmart is “increasingly trying to get our associates to turn over personal information to the union by using deceptive and slick looking social media and mobile apps,” according to an internal Walmart document. Experts say the use of smartphones and mobile apps in labor organization is likely to grow. “This is a battle for the hearts and minds of the workers,” said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University. In the future, “human resource management will be on people’s telephones.”

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