Workers Organizing Online: What We’ve Learned and What We’re Learning

Workers Organizing Online: What We’ve Learned and What We’re Learning

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Thursday, Jul. 17 10:30 AM (Eastern)

Ends: Thursday, Jul. 17 11:45 AM (Eastern)

Digital organizing in the labor movement is finally hitting its stride. Organizing 2.0 is the only organization founded specifically to address this field, and we want to share some of what we’ve learned over our five years of study. In this panel, we’ll feature case studies of brave and successful online/offline organizing, including the higher risk/higher reward moves by labor/community coalitions like Fast Food Forward and OurWalmart. We’ll also talk about how teacher unions have successfully broadened education fights to include the entire community and how union locals and community groups have invested in online work even with their limited capacity.


Elana Levin


Elana has lead trainings in digital strategy for nonprofits, unions and community organizations since 2006. Elana is Program Director at New Media Mentors, a project of Netroots Nation, leading digital strategy trainings online and off as well as trainings on integrating popular culture into campaigns.

She joins Netroots Nation’s staff after serving as digital director for labor unions and community based organizations and has lead trainings for over 4,000 progressives as co-founder of Organizing 2.0.

She has also worked at the intersection of popular culture and online organizing for over a decade connecting nonprofits with pop culture creators and fans and applying the lessons of storytelling to the fight for social and economic justice.

She hosts Graphic Policy Radio podcasts (“Where comics and politics meet”). Elana tweets about the labor movement, online organizing and superhero comics at @Elana_Brooklyn.

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Kenzo Shibata


Kenzo Shibata is a former high school teacher and union activist who from 2010-2013 was the Digital Media Coordinator for Chicago Teachers Union. He built CTU’s robust digital media program powered by rank-and-file organizing. Two notable digital campaigns he led were around the 2012 CTU Strike and the 2013 School Closings Campaign. He is currently Media Director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers where he coordinated digital strategy during the successful University of Illinois at Chicago strike. He is also writes about Labor, Education, and the ever-changing digital landscape. His writing can be seen in Jacobin Magazine, Salon, In These Times, Huffington Post, New Politics, Truth-Out, Hack the Union, Alter-Net, and Labor Notes. He is a board member of Organizing 2.0.

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Sara Steffens

Sara Steffens

Before beginning her career in the labor movement, Sara Steffens was an award-winning daily newspaper reporter focused on covering homelessness and poverty. Steffens helped lead an effort to organize her newsroom in 2008, but was laid-off two weeks after the successful vote.

She went on to help found the freelance journalist unit at her home local, Pacific Media Workers Guild, and to create a popular series of journalism trainings and outreach programs.

These days, Steffens trains fellow union members in social media, and works on organizing, mobilizing and online outreach projects in California and around the nation. She is the acting secretary-treasurer of The Newspaper Guild-CWA.

Other sessions: Funding the projects you care about

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Kyle Tanner

Kyle Tanner is the nation digital director for the fast food organizing campaign. His digital chops are a result of organizing no budget/low budget campaigns across advocacy sectors where the option was DIY or Die. Prioritizing efficiency and utility over kittens, he designs digital campaigns that are driven by and integrated into the organizing spiral. He is learning how to recruit workers online, nourish worker-created digital hubs for communication and how to run digital strike teams in 100 cities on a single day