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Beer, Organizing, and Young Tech Savvy Graduate Students-Labor College

Several months ago I was having a beer with a bright young man who really gets technology.  We were discussing the decreasing market share of unions and how bad it would be for our country if this trend continued.  Two problem solvers, the conversation naturally turned into how to reverse the current dismal situation unions across our wonderful country find themselves in.  I of coarse have been thinking about this for the last ten years, if not longer.  So I started off with the power of organizing.  I’m talking, hard nose, no bullshit organizing.  The good stuff.  The stuff that gets shit done.  After a few minutes into the conversation it was clear this young man needed and wanted some context, so I took this kid to school.  We talked history.  We talked about what worked in the past – what didn’t.  We talked whos, whens, wheres, and whys.  We talked about laws and movements and the strength of the labor of old.  He kept wanting more, so I even gave him a few war stories of my own.  This young man was like a sponge – just kept soaking it all up and wanting more.

Once the history lesson was done – a few hours later, the schooling got to the current state of affairs.  Unfortunately, the conversation become less spirited, and rightfully so – we’re getting our asses kicked.  We talked about our current strategies and how they’ve matured and still aren’t paying off.  Things picked back up when spoke about Labor Combat Organizing College.  I explained the core strategies that we teach at Labor Combat Organizing College which we like to call LaborCombat™.  He grasped that fairly quickly – I mean it’s not that hard to grasp because it’s plain to see, but that’s for another post.  Anyways, we were talking about how LaborCombat™ would fit into the marketplace as an organizing strategy, when he asked me if I had time to answer several questions regarding unions.  I agreed and the conversation took a turn down a new and very interesting path.                                             Labor College

This graduate student became the teacher, and asked me all kinds of questions about the business of unions.  He asked about broad things like value propositions, CBAs, and anti-union businesses.  He asked about really specific things like who exactly was doing the organizing, what that looked like, their background’s, who they would talk to, and what the conversation would look like.  He even asked if we could roll play the conversation – which we did.  Turns out this “kid” is some kind of smart. He studied entrepreneurship as an undergraduate, won all kinds of awards, opened his first Internet business as a junior, and when he graduated – the college offered him a full ride for an MBA and has him building several programs for their entrepreneurship center.  I knew by the questions he was asking that this wasn’t his first time doing strategic consulting and that he had an idea on how to solve our problem.  Boy was I right on that.  When he hit me with it I could feel my blood pumping again – the way it was a couple hours before when I was in the meat of the glory days of his history lesson.  But this time it was different.  It was even better.  I started having flash forwards of what this could do for labor and it hit me – this was big.  Real big, and we needed to take this to market yesterday.                                                                                           Labor College

We went back and forth on his initial strategy, and several weeks later, we came up with what we’re calling TechCombat™.  It’s taking our passive approach to using technology and turning up the heat to a full on frontal attack on Internet marketplace.  What he helped me realize is that we’re sitting on a mountain of power when it comes to the core competencies we already have.  In business we must leverage our core competencies to gain a competitive advantage.  Unions are no different.  We as unions must make sure we’re using our competencies to their fullest potential.  Anything less is inefficient – right now we have no room for inefficiency. 

Unions have a competency in people.  Specifically as it applies to TechCombat™, our competency is the sheer number of members we have at our disposal, which in general we are not leveraging to the fullest capacity when it comes to using the Internet for a competitive advantage.  TechCombat™ gives unions a step-by-step blueprint on how to carry out an advanced Internet strategy that leverages our competencies to the fullest for measurable and rapid gains in market share.                                                                 Labor college

The stuff we came up with is big.  I mean big in the sense that unions who take action on this will have an added value proposition.  The kind of proposition we can bring to the top and really get their attention with hard numbers that make sense for their bottom line.

This young man is on to something big and that’s why I have him and his team talking at my classes.  The feedback is crazy good on what they’re bringing to the table.  It’s fun seeing the light bulbs go off, and how excited the guys around the table get about TechCombat™.  They’ve already got several groups talking about how soon they can start taking action.  They’ve even got a few groups asking for meetings on help with taking next steps and this is a week or so since they attended our class.


Danny L Caliendo

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