Finding limited representation in established unions, a growing number of precarious and migrant workers of the gig economy have been turning to self-organization. Yet little is known about how these workers can compensate for their lack of material resources and institutional support and negotiate effectively with employers. Drawing on interviews, frame, and content analysis grounded in ethnographic research with the precarious and migrant workers of British ‘indie’ unions, we examine the significance of self-mediation practices in facilitating effective negotiations. We find that the effectiveness of campaigns can be enhanced by strategically integrating vibrant direct action of workers and allies with self-mediated messages, which are framed to resonate with the general public and mainstream media – a practice that we call communicative unionism. These findings extend labour movement scholarship by showing the analytical importance of considering workers’ discursive power-building practices. They also contribute to addressing social movement studies’ historical neglect of workers’ collective engagements with employers.
Però, D., & Downey, J. (2022). Advancing Workers’ Rights in the Gig Economy through Discursive Power: The Communicative Strategies of Indie Unions. Work, Employment and Society, https://doi.org/10.1177/09500170221103160