Much like the technology itself, the potential for unions to gain from social media is unlimited. There has been a marked uptick in union use of social media to organize, inform and activate but there has been little progress in the quest to turn a social media presence into a way to create jobs. A step in that direction has been taken by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), however, thanks to Local 309 Journeyman Wireman Joshua Wiegers. Upon seeing a non-union job open up at department store, Wiegers used social media to turn the job union:
IBEW Local 309 Organizer Chris Hankins said one of his members, Journeyman Wireman Joshua Wiegers, saw the job posted on Craigslist by National Retrofitting Group out of Chicago, which was looking for an apprentice electrician to work nights on the project. Hankins contacted National as well as the store manager and posted a message on Local 309’s Facebook page encouraging their friends to call and visit the store to tell the manager they would no longer shop there. He also presented the store manager with a handbill encouraging customers to shop at Gordmans’s competition.
The next day, with IBEW Journeyman Wireman Tom Coats (pictured) prepared to handbill outside the store, Gordmans ordered National to hire an IBEW Local 309 signatory contractor to perform the work. The job went to St. Louis-based Guarantee Electric, which has an office in Granite City.
Much like the #BoycottRush movement, social media in the hands of a dedicated and impassioned individual or group of individuals can bring about change at a pace faster than previously experienced. For Journeyman Wiegers this was perhaps an isolated attempt to secure union work for his IBEW brothers and sisters. But may have unknowingly brought about a new method of fighting the good fight via the Internet.
We were enough of a thorn to get it turned around,” [Organizer Chris] Hankins said. “The social media was great for getting people calling and walking in. It just made a huge difference and was the ideal vehicle to rally the troops.”