Transitioning to Community-Based Labor Union Software

Why Labor Union Leaders are Making the Switch.

From acquiring better working conditions, to increased pay and better benefits, labor unions have traditionally existed to be the collective bargaining voice for members. However, the labor union that was successful in 1952 is not guaranteed success in 2023. 

With different values and concerns, like diversity, equity, and inclusion, today’s labor unions must ensure that they are evolving along with the concerns and expectations of their workers to stay relevant, attract new members, and ultimately strengthen their collective bargaining power 

The Good News: According to a recent poll, “Public support for labor unions has been generally rising since hitting its lowest point of 48% in 2009, during the Great Recession,” with “65% of Americans [approving] of labor unions—the highest percentage in 16 years.”

And according to the Washington Post, several reasons can be attributed for the increase in labor union popularity among younger workers today, including “soaring rents and mountains of student debt” as well as “the highest rate of inflation since the 1970s.” 

To capitalize on this labor union resurgence, many labor leaders are choosing to upgrade their membership strategy and meet workers where they are – both in-person and online. 

Accurately Measuring Member Sentiment 

Unions are supposed to be the voice of their membership, and in order for union leaders to accurately express the concerns of their members, they need to understand the sentiment of their collective. Historically, the only way to measure sentiment was gut-instinct, one-off conversations or annual surveys.

However, today’s union organizers are opting for a real-time, data-driven way of gauging their member sentiment: private online communities which strengthen collective bargaining power come negotiation time.

Unlike social media, private online communities allow members to engage with one another and their union leaders without the risk of unauthorized users gaining access, via an authenticated network

Additionally, by opting for a private union community and maintaining ownership of community administration, union leaders will never have to worry about having their primary communication channels (like their institutional emails) being shut down or locked out.

And by creating a designated space where every member of your union can communicate, engage, and voice their opinions, union leaders will gain access to real-time analytics and metrics so they can confidently (and quickly!) gauge their community sentiment, and become the strongest voice possible for their members when it comes time to collective bargaining discussions.

Skip ahead to read the checklist: 
“Top Features to Look for When Considering a Private Online Community” 

Prioritizing Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity so Every Voice is Heard

While the claim that union workers are paid more than their non-union counterparts is mostly true, it’s unfortunately not the case for all. As most of us probably know – and highlighted by the  bureau of labor statistics – in 2020 unionized black women made less than non-unionized white men.

Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by union affiliation and selected characteristics

Note: Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.
Chart: Raftr Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

And when these discrepancies are pointed out, it becomes the responsibility of those in positions of power and authority to act – especially when the overall goal is to advocate for every worker. 

Because of this, an increasing number of union leaders are investing in new or updated Diversity, Equity & Inclusion strategies. In order to be the strongest bargaining unit you can be, it’s important that none of your members feel disenfranchised or marginalized by their union. As such,  many leaders are creating designated digital safe spaces for them to communicate with union leaders, each other, or find helpful resources, in the way that suits them best.

Raftr Tip: 

In order to best represent their members, labor unions need to know their members. 

In addition to tracking sentiment, today’s union organizers are leveraging tools like anonymous polls and engagement data (opens, views, impressions) to develop a better understanding of their entire membership, so they can fight for what’s really important, reach faster conclusions, and experience more effective arbitrations, in much less time.

Personalizing the Member Experience For Maximum Reach

In order for unions to effectively communicate with their members, labor union leaders need to make sure their messages aren’t being ignored. And while phone messages or email used to be enough, today’s Gen-Z workers often miss these communications as they are inundated with too much irrelevant information, every day.

To overcome this hurdle, labor leaders can do two things: 

  1. Forget ignored emails & costly SMS, and start leveraging a digital community as a central hub for all labor union communications, while providing members easy to access digital resources, 24/7. Or target a specific group of members with a highly-specialized message sent at a specific time. 


  1. Allow members to adjust and personalize their communications experience. For example, adjunct professors might want to receive fewer notifications as they may not be as invested than full-time faculty. 

Improving Event Attendance for Faster Negotiations

In order to be an effective and efficient labor union, your members need to be ready for the call at a moment’s notice. While this is easier said than done, the results speak for themselves.

In September 2022, Rider faculty averted a strike and reached a new contract deal where “the lengthy negotiations concluded days after the chapter hosted the largest chapter meeting in its history.” In this meeting, “members were adamant they get a fair contract and go out on strike, if necessary.” By harnessing their collective bargaining power, Rider AAUP was able to achieve “the best contract that could be achieved without a strike.”

By ensuring your communications are actually getting through (with tools like community and communication analytics for real-time data), along with making sure every union member feels heard, leaders can be confident that when the time comes, their members will be ready for action thanks to the genuine connection they feel towards their labor union. 

Top Features to Look for When Considering a Private Online Community
  • Authenticated Network
  • DE&I Specific Tools
  • Custom Notifications
  • Insights & Analytics Dashboard
  • Tiered User Permissions
  • Community & 1:1 Messaging
  • Automatic Calendar Consolidation
  • Branding & White Label
  • Private & Secure
  • Union-Owned & Operated
  • Fosters Member Connections
  • Promotes Inclusivity & Diversity
  • Centralizes Resources
  • Targets Communication
  • Extends Union Reach
  • Increases Event Turn-Out