Friday, August 12, 2022

The LA Times looks at venture capitalists investing in the organized labor movement in order to get a cut of union dues


A startup backed by Silicon Valley venture capitalists, Unit of Work is an unlikely candidate for the role of labor-movement champion. Its outside investors have made fortunes backing technologies such as artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies and video games. One is among California’s foremost critics of public-sector labor unions.


In 2021, [he wrote] that “union bosses have taken California schools from the top to the bottom, they have made it so that there are fewer jobs, more homeless, and people are fleeing the state to work,” he launched a ballot initiative to ban public-sector unions in the state.


“Unit of [W]ork is making unions decentralized,” [he] wrote in an email explaining his investment.


Unit’s business model works like this: The startup’s organizers provide free consulting to groups of workers organizing unions within their own workplaces — helping them build support to win elections, advising them on strategy in contract-bargaining sessions, guiding them through paperwork filings and around legal obstacles. Once a contract is in place, members of the new union can decide to pay Unit a monthly fee — similar to traditional union dues — to keep providing support.