GLU MOOC and Localization Workshop Concept Note
Kevin Slaten, New York City, January 2016
1. PROMOTION CONCEPT NOTE
1.1 Network communication
Through my work and studies, I have come to know a broad spectrum of NGOs, unions, and individuals involved in the labor rights field in the northeast region of the U.S. One of my first steps in promoting the MOOC will be to reach out by email, phone, and in-person to these various groups and people. I will briefly introduce the concept of the MOOC and my experience with it, in addition to introducing GLU and the upcoming workshop. Some of the organizations will include Labor Notes, Communication Workers of America, Hotel Trade Council, Workers United, SEIU, CUNY Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, International Labor Rights Forum, New York University Asia Law Institute, etc. The GLU-affiliated Penn State program is also plugged in to the labor field in this region. I will reach out to Mark Anner for further suggestions.
I will use these conversations as occasions to expand my network. I will ask the contacts for other groups or individuals who may be interested in the course and workshop on global labor rights. This expanded network will enhance promotional capabilities for GLU. As I form and extend the network, I will keep a record of contacted organizations and individuals for future use.
In addition, I will ask current contacts about potential relevant list servs where the MOOC and workshop could be promoted. For instance, I know of some list servs for Chinese labor issues that includes labor advocates in the U.S. These list servs could have a massive multiplier effect for the promotion.
1.2 Social media communication
A second promotion approach will be to leverage social media, including Twitter and Facebook, to promote the MOOC and workshop. The first task in this respect will be to design social media language that is appropriate to the platform involved. Social media posts tend to demand brevity, especially Twitter, which has a 140-character limit. While there are creative ways to expand informational sharing within these limits (like picture captures or “tweet-in-tweet”), expressing information with concision will be important. These posts will include a link to a webpage were users can understand the MOOC in more detail and sign up.
Next, I will use these message templates as a basis to ask other groups and social media accounts with large numbers of followers to share the information with their social media network. These organizations and individuals will include those in promotional network, mentioned in 1.1 above. But I may also reach out to groups or people that may not be in that network. For example, individuals with a degree of celebrity who may not be suitable for involvement in more involved promotion but would be interested in quickly sharing a post about the MOOC or workshop. Given enough followers, this simple act could magnify the reach of the MOOC greatly. Some examples include labor union presidents and well-known social activists.
1.3 Timeline for communication activities
-January – Reach out to local organizations and individuals; design social media posts.
-February – Begin promotional push via list servs and social media.
-March – MOOC begins.
-April – Localization workshop.
2. LOCALIZATION WORKSHOP CONCEPT NOTE
2.1 Workshop Concepts
--2.1.1 Concept 1: TPP Campaign –
**Background.** After seven years of mostly secretive negotiation between governments and corporate lobbyists, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free trade deal that would link 12 countries around the Pacific Ocean into the largest economic free trade bloc in human history, encompassing more than a third of the global economy. This deal has been called “NAFTA on steroids”. It has been lambasted by civil society groups, including unions, for its intention to formalize legal language that would be a detriment to the environment, labor standards, the U.S. trade deficit, health care, financial stability, and intellectual property. One of the most controversial measures in the TPP is the proposal to establish a court that is essentially unaccountable to democratically-elected government officials. Rather, corporations will be permitted to sue governments (and in essence, their populations) for damages suffered as the result of public policy that causes a reduction in future corporate profits. Interestingly, in the U.S. there is also some resistance to the TPP even from the right (for instance) in part for fear that the trade pact would undermine U.S. sovereignty and national security.
**Current status of TPP.** The TPP was officially completed in October 2015. The U.S. Congress is expected to vote on it in summer 2016. In January 2016, 1,500 civil society groups signed a letter to Congress demanding that representatives block the trade deal. President Obama, a Democrat, has worked primarily with Republicans, who are linked politically with greater corporate interests, to gain “fast-track” trade authority in June 2015. This means that the Congressional vote in 2016 cannot be prefaced by amendments to the TPP. It must be taken as all or nothing. Fast-track is meant to allow the White House to push the TPP through the legislature’s without negotiation which could slow the process. But this tactic has only increased resistance among civil society groups in America. The timing of the TPP vote is quite in line with this workshop, as politics for the vote will ramp up in the spring of 2016.
**Workshop discussion questions:**
1) Generally, is there such a thing as a pro-labor, pro-environmental trade deal? What would it look like, either theoretically or practically?
2) Do we (workshop participants) agree that TPP is a detrimental trade deal? Are there aspects of it worth keeping, assuming there was not a fast-track?
3) Assuming agreement of resistance, what sort of focused actions can be utilized by labor groups, especially in the Northeast region, to work toward the rejection of TPP? (For instance, targeting a number of key politicians whose constituencies include members of the groups present in the workshop.)
**Pros of this concept:** Timely, at the nexus of international and national labor issues.
**Cons of this concept:** Given the sheer size and politicization of the issue, there will probably be larger barriers to gaining participation in any follow-up action on the part of unions or civil society groups—they will need to garner approval from superiors.
--2.1.2 Concept 2: Freedom of Association Solidarity Network--
**Background.** Many aspects of the Workers’ Rights in the Global Economy MOOC touch upon the right to organize and bargain as two of the most fundamental aspects of international labor rights. These rights so fundamental that a special mechanism, the Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA), was formed to handle complaints on violations related to freedom of association. Thousands of cases have reached the CFA, and CFA recommendations are important. But at the same time, the recommendation process is slow. While the process takes place, many more labor organizers and activists are denied their basic rights around the world without a response from the international community, either because labor groups do not know or because there is not an effective response mechanism to raise the status of the cases.
Workshop discussion questions:
1) What do participants know about CFA? Has anyone ever been involved in a CFA complaint mechanism?
2) What is a typical case in the CFA like, and how long does it take? (Review examples from CFA database.)
3) As organized labor rights groups, is there value in forming a more formal solidarity network which would raise the profile of key FOA cases (even if they are not linked to CFA) through strategic demonstrations, written complaints to key institutions or individuals, or media campaigns?
4) If so, how would this group be organized? How would the network select cases on which to act (e.g., region, issue area, scale)? How would organizational records be kept so that the network can be quickly accessed when a need to act arises?
5) What inputs/resources are necessary to make such an effort work? Who has ownership of various aspects of the network?
**Pros of this concept:** International in nature; diversifies responsibilities among groups which may make willingness to act more feasible; allows groups to network with one another, ultimately increasing the capacity of labor rights organizations; this could easily become an international effort, once established; it can be linked to GLU.
**Cons of this concept:** Diversifying responsibilities also opens possibility of “free rider” problem, even if groups volunteer to join; are there are similar networks which already exist, or are there disparate organizations which could be brought together to form the Freedom of Association Solidarity Network?
2.2 Workshop Promotion
(reference section 1 above) (Use that organizational network to extend invitations, in addition to all MOOC participants in the NE region) (workshop promotional materials will include background and topic in order to lead to more fruitful discussion)
The workshop will take place in New York City, a densely populated region with a vibrant labor community. I will reach out first to the CUNY Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, which is centrally located in Midtown and regularly hosts labor-related events. I know several people at the Institute and will reach out to them in January about a space. It is difficult to estimate currently the number of participants in the workshop, but I believe that attendance on the scale of two dozen people is conservative given the number of labor groups in the region and the number of MOOC participants. If the CUNY venue is not feasible, I will reach out to individual unions who have large spaces, including SEIU locals and Workers United.
2.4. Date and Time
The event will likely take place in the middle of April. There are two reasons for this choice. First, MOOC participants will have been more comprehensively introduced to global labor rights concepts by April. Second, more time will be available to coordinate with labor groups and individuals.
Whether to hold the event on a weekday evening or weekend will depend on (1) venue availability, (2) responses from labor groups and individuals who advise on the likelihood on their attendance at various times, and (3) the likely number of participants. If the likely turnout is small (e.g., one dozen people), a 2-hour discussion will suffice. But if there are two or three dozen people, in order to facilitate effective and fair communication around the workshop topic, more time will be required.
2.5 Workshop Documentation
An attendance record will be kept for the workshop. A one- to two-page summary of the workshop discussion will be provided (based on notes taken by the Tutor). Two types of multimedia documentation will be provided: photos of the discussion event itself and video statements from a few participants about their reflections on the workshop. Reflection questions may be: (1) Why did you participate in this workshop? (2) What was your biggest takeaway?