Avatar-based workers unite? Labor union protest against IBM to enter Second Life (Updated)
Uni Global spokesman on IBM campus-- interview with Global in update below
Update, 9/27: On-the-scene report of strike here.
News that IBM has a corporate campus in Second Life is so last year ago. Launching a union protest against IBM in Second Life is where it's at now. At least according to John Wood of Tigmoo, a blog network for UK labor unions, with a site in SL.
"An Italian labor union RSU is in dispute with IBM-- pay negotiations
there look like there will be an effective pay cut for very many
Italian IBM staffers," he e-mails me. "The union is expecting hundreds of avatars of Italian IBM workers, as
well as IBM staff from around the world, and other trades unionists, to
converge flash-mob style later this month, to demonstrate and spread
the word about the dispute."
There's more resources at the site of Uni Global, a Swiss union federation involved with the protest, in preparation for its September 25th launch, including links for getting a "Strike Kit" at their SL headquarters. More from the AFL-CIO's blog here, which reports that the dispute is over a 1,000 Euro paycut-- about $1,377 a year.
At this point, it's too early to determine how effective such a mobilization will be, and whether it'll involve any of the IBM staff who work at the Second Life campus. I'm checking with IBM and the protest leaders and will update accordingly.
Update, 6:40PM: Just had a quick interview with Uni Global SL spokesperson, aptly named UNIglobalunion Oh.
UO: Yes we are planning to be present on the IBM sim. But if they throw us out we have other alternatives for our virtual strike!
How many actual IBM employees are expected at the protest, and how many who already work at their SL campus?
UO: It's hard to predict how many IBM employees will join as most of them have given us their private email addresses to join the strike. A few of them have given IBM addresses, which has just allowed us to confirm the participation of IBM workers in a number of different countries. Indeed, we are expecting 18 countries to participate in the strike-- at least. I'm not sure any of them work on the IBM [Second Life] campus! It seems for now we are fighting issues in real life for IBM Italy workers... I'm not sure IBM would appreciate SL workers joining the strike. Yet, they are more than welcome to go on strike with us!
Why is protesting in SL the most effective means of pushing this issue forward?
UO: Protesting in SL is ONE of the means of pushing the issue forward. We need dialog with IBM and a better deal for the thousands of employees in Italy. One of the ways of getting there might be to catch their attention - and the media's attention - with our planned SL actions.
Update 2, September 18th: Second Life-based IBM staffer Jaymin Carthage, while declining to comment on the specifics of the protest, offers general thoughts on his company-hosted blog. Excerpt:
In the specific case of the Italian labor union, if it was my choice, I would treat it like a real world protest. I would meet with the leaders (to discuss their protest, not their grievance, that is presumably being taken care of elsewhere). If they were willing to have a non-harassing protest of a set duration I would cooperate with them in having it done. Perhaps providing a company spokesperson in a set location that people witnessing the demonstration could converse with to get the company view on things. Once over it would be business as usual. Not leaflets left by either the company or the protesters giving their views.