from Fast Company
Jamie Earl White grew up in a rural Texas town near Uvalde where there was a clear resources divide between “the ranching class and the non-ranching class.” As an MIT student, he took careful notes during Occupy Boston and helped lead the “Justice for Janitors” campaign—a lesson in how, even with the support of the powerful Service Employees International Union, it could still take workers a year and half to win better contract terms.
So, once White found success in tech a few years later, his mind returned to the problem of workers being under-resourced. He chatted with labor leaders, and presciently in 2020, before the current union movement driven by service-industry employees exploded, launched a new startup called Unit of Work whose solution can sound pretty radical: It provides free consulting to workers trying to organize their workplaces.
If the drive is successful, it then asks the newly minted union to pay fees. In the meantime, would-be organizers get everything from an app and legal advice to tips on bargaining tactics and help filling out the mountains of paperwork. They even get access to hard-to-acquire data on stuff like their employer’s finances. But because clearly these services aren’t free, Unit of Work is doing something even more radical: It’s relying on venture capital from Silicon Valley, a move that’s gotten fist-pumps and raised eyebrows since the startup captured its second union vote victory several weeks ago.