You think you know me? Maybe not as well as you think. You might be shocked but, I’m not in favour of a blogger union. Sure, I was a founding member of, and even Secretary, the Professional Bloggers Association–which aimed to be a trade group not a union–, living in Canada and somewhat Left-leaning, but I’m still not going for this.
Telegraphik–Bloggers Pushing For A Labor Union is the starting point for discussion. My buddy and partner Jim wrote at OBO:
This could only be coming from the left of course. Oh sorry Tris, I said I wouldn?t do that!
I?m having a difficult time seeing Susie Blogger breaking kneecaps on a virtual picket line, or how this union would gather enough strength to actually be viable. Source: Bloggers Unite! Bloggers Beginning Grassroots Movement to Unionize | One By One Media
Thinking, I guess, that I would be waving my red flag by now. Yeah, not so much.
So let’s get to the “oh this is a bad idea” part of the discussion (hopefully you’ve recovered from the shock that I’m not going for a blogger union by now). Jeremy Wright takes the economic argument against it, which as CEO of b5media is to be expected (sorry Jeremy you’re The Man now). I’m not going to say that Jeremy’s arguments aren’t valid, they are–bang on even, it’s just that they are expected arguments. And an argument easily expected is one easily parried. Jim’s argument, still economic, is a tad better–no way people will pay those wages. Companies give Jim and I the “How much?” response to our quotes already, and, by the way … our fees aren’t high by any stretch of the imagination, what if we had to pay the “union wage”. Heck I don’t even know how we’d hire folks. I don’t think I could be both a blogger (for b5) and an owner (for OBO) in the unionized scenario either. Which would seriously cramp my style, thought it might make it less stressful.
Here’s my thing. A union would destroy the blogosphere as we know it, an open exchange of ideas and links. Not only would blog network owners have an unnatural, and unneeded, barrier between them and the bloggers, but what will the bloggers be expected to do by the union? Could you only link to blogs written by union brothers and sisters? What about commenting? Would there be battles over closed and open shops? Think I’m nuts? A union’s power is in solidarity. You make people want to be in a union for that solidarity (and solidarity brings benefits, etc). So a link ban on non-union blogs and bloggers, is completely logical, and completely stupid. You think some of the greatest minds on the Blogosphere would join a union? Dave Winer in a blogger union? A freakin’ closed system by default? Yeah I think not. David Weinberger? Techcrunch? You think Techcrunch, Engadget and Gizmodo would let bloggers unionize? Yeah, umm, no. They’d probably let folks go and hire folks willing to forgo a union.
Then there is the union’s greatest “weapon”–the strike. Yeah, like I’m going to stop blogging on my blog because of a strike. And what about strike pay? A pro-blogger earns money via the traffic he/she brings in… a strike would cripple that. I bet many blogs (the smaller ones just on the cusp especially) would never make the losses back.
The blogosphere is about sharing and openness. Unions are about control. They are about banding together to get something out of big business. You just can’t have an “open” union.
This is not to say that the time won’t come when bloggers at blog networks might really like additional benefits. Cool. This isn’t to say that companies don’t need to realize that good blogging, good writing, doesn’t come cheap. It can’t be done on the cheap.
Maybe the solution is a trade association. Something like that, with country-specific chapters, could help folks get health benefits and other perks. Hmm, maybe something like The Social Media Club.
Let’s not artificially divide the blogosphere up into union and non-union, worker and employer. Let’s work together to improve ad revenues, convince companies to allocate more funds, and maybe build some groups and associations that can help get benefits. That’s the answer. Not a union.