Can a mobile phone game help workers to organize and advocate for their rights? A project in South America has received CLAC Foundation funding to find out
The smartphone game, developed with experienced union organizers and an Argentine video game design collective, will facilitate different union organizing exercises, including practicing conversations to recruit leaders, persuading coworkers to take collective action, and growing union membership.
“We’re grateful to the CLAC Foundation for providing the funding to collaborate on such a dynamic project,” says Caitlin Hoover, director of development for Glob¬al Labor Justice–International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ– ILRF). “This unique organizing tool will begin as a pilot that builds leadership within partner unions in South America. We are hopeful the lessons learned from this model will become applicable to other areas of our work, and the work of other labour organizations around the world.”
Noah Dobin-Berstein, organizer with GLJ–ILRF, says “this game builds leadership and organizing capacity by strengthening workers’ ability to build unity, strengthening organizational structure, and taking collective action to achieve workers’ rights protections in their workplaces.”
It will be modelled on popular, similarly formatted games where users choose from text options to advance a conversation with a fictional character. The character, in turn, responds through a combination of textual replies, expressions, and gestures. By choosing the right questions and statements to move the conversation along, users will learn to employ basic organizing skills such as building trust, asking pointed questions, inspiring, fighting for rights, and establishing a credible vision.
The tool will be tested with a specific online cohort of leaders. The goals of this pilot include engaging a broader set of workers, increasing the number of worker leaders with core organizing competence, identifying more rank and file members with a desire and ability to take on a leadership role, and increasing union member engagement through an increase in worker leadership.
The game will be piloted around a specific campaign in Spanish but will also be available in English. After it is launched, it will be available to download for free by unions and workers around the world. If successful, it may be used to support leadership development among workers in Canada, particularly Spanish-speaking immigrant workers from Latin America. This aligns with the CLAC Foundation’s target to break down barriers to meaningful employment for marginalized communities in Canada, including newcomers.
The CLAC Foundation supports training for homeless and marginalized workers in Canada, as well as new immigrants, and also funds international projects, training, and workshops that help workers advocate for their rights in the developing world, where working conditions are often far worse than in Canada and benefits are scarce.
Global Labor Justice–International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ–ILRF) is a new merged organization bringing strategic capacity to cross-sectoral work on global value chains and labour migration corridors. GLJ–ILRF holds global corporations accountable for labour rights violations in their supply chains; advances policies and laws that protect decent work and just migration; and strengthens freedom of association, new forms of bargaining, and worker organizations.