Two former employees of the Service Employees International Union have created a website – coworker.org – that they say is intended to allow employees to gather, organize, and create change in their workplaces. According to a Fast Company article, the website is currently hosting hundreds of initiatives for change in various workplaces. "We're codesigning new forms of collective advocacy power for workers which don't replace trade unions," co-creator Michelle Miller was quoted as saying. "They are actually new kinds of models that sit next to trade unions as options for workers to start to think about ways in which they want to have organizational power inside their workplaces."
One of the website’s activities was a "visible tattoo" campaign at Starbucks. Workers for the coffee chain posted a petition that the company allow workers to have visible tattoos. The petition was signed by 25,000 Starbucks workers in 17 countries, and may have been responsible for the coffee chain's revised dress code that now allows tattoos to be visible. There are reportedly more than 24 "live" petitions targeting various aspects of Starbucks employment, with about 10 percent of its workforce on the site. As we went to press, the website also contained a petition for the supermarket chain Publix to allow beards (more than 13,000 signatures), and for restaurant chain TGI Friday's to bring back automatic tipping for parties of six or more. (That one had barely more than 2,000 signatures – maybe wait staff realizes that "automatic" tips aren’t always as good as "voluntary" tips from satisfied diners.)
In any event, employers – especially those in the retail, hospitality and restaurant industries and those which have large numbers of geographically dispersed employees – will want to pay attention. If the website is successful, more such websites and apps are sure to follow.