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Uloop Pulls A Trump Move

Online unions pulled into question

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[ Social Media]

The last time we heard any buzz about unions for online workers, it involved the ill-fated bloggers union. This time, it might not be so unfathomable since it could be a legitimate gripe. A pair of social networking employees allege they were fired for just mentioning the word "union."

Uloop LogoUloop Logo
(Photo Credit: Uloop)

Uloop.com is a website geared toward helping college students find campus-centric necessities like books, jobs, and rides. The site hires students as campus representatives to run forums in relation to these goals.

California State Polytechnic University of Pomona reps Austin Garrido and Sarah Doolittle allege a series of Uloop abuses in a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board. They begin with an unannounced pay cut, which the students learned about by viewing their check stubs. Garrido and Doolittle found their pay decreased from $10 per hour to $8 per hour.

Upset by the drop in wages, Doolittle wrote a letter to the company and both proposed the idea of unionizing in the Uloop company forum, a move Sfist.com describes as "adorable." "It’s always cute to hear about dewy-fresh-out-college types whose souls have yet to be pulverized by the reality of the workplace."

In this case, they’re actually still in college, which is precisely why the website sort of needs them—student campus acclimation is the basis of the whole concept. Regardless, Doolittle and Garrido claim the union proposal thread was deleted and both of them were fired shortly after.

While it’s true that more seasoned workers would have conducted these measures in the shadows rather than in the spotlight, Uloop may find itself in violation of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, which bars companies from intimidating workers who want to organize and from taking down employee-posted pro-union material from designated work areas.

As Valleywag reports, the case will hinge on whether trying to form a union online or posting in an employee forum is the same as tacking up a flyer in the break room. No matter how it turns out, it’s not very good PR for Uloop, which depends on students to make its social network a success.

Regardless of how the case goes, these same students can spread the word very quickly at Facebook or other sites that working as a campus representative for them will only earn them grief, either by unannounced pay cuts, or by unfair firings, making Uloop guilty in the online court of public opinion.

Uloop did not return request for comment in time for publication.  
 

Uloop Pulls A Trump Move
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  • Uloop worker practicing his freedom of speech!

    I was one of the fellow co-workers who saw the message they put up in the employee message board. To say that they were fired because of trying to form a union would be an understatement. Now I do know that their progress was unsatisfactory since all workers are able to see all campuses’ results in terms of numbers. I can’t say they were fired because of that, but I would say it played a vital part along with their actions on this "union" debate. I’ve noticed several news sources report on this occurence, but unfortuntely none of them have the evidence that prooves their claim on the company. Though even I cannot provide proof, but just having seen the post, I can tell you that their actions were done in an unprofessional matter that attacked the website, questioned the integrity and ambition of the students, and made false claims. Of course, you can also say that I would be a candidate for bias opinion considered I have worked for the GREAT SUPER AWESOME COMPANY THAT IS ULOOP.COM (that’s right, I could serious and humorous at the same time, and also a bad speller).

    First let me add that I have enjoyed my experiences with the company mostly for the experience, pay structure, and convienience. I have had no problems working for the company because I felt instead the company worked for me. When I saw the post they made I can tell you myself I was shocked because it was absurd. If I were one of managers I would have taken it down myself. Again, I cannot provide proof of its content but I can say that it aimed to cause conspicuousness over Uloop’s intentions. Its approached seemed to cause anarchy against Uloop rather than working with it to create a labor union. It was filled more with personal vendetta against the company in hope that more people will "agree" rather than come to an alternative way of working. Had it been executed in a more professional matter, I would have left it up. If I did remove it, I would urge to poster to contact every privately since the message board is intended to allow employees to communicate with others on how to improve marketing strategies or suggest ways of improving the site; not improving our paychecks. I may not be sure on this, but I don’t believe they were fired right away, at least permenantely. They were warned.

    Another issue I have noticed from these articles about the hate on uloop is of course the pay change. Yes it was changed, and actually it WAS announced to us. It was reminded to us several times over the phone weeks prior and elaborated further through an email dated in January, the first month of the pay increase, I’m sorry, change.

    The pay structure was $10/hr BEFORE the launch date. This is important to keep in mind because the launch of Uloop on any campus would allow workers to view their results (registered users, posts, pageviews, etc…) and ultimately make room for a bonus incentive that would provide workers with a better hourly rate.

    Although the pay was "changed" to $8/hr, a bonus of 2 dollars an hour would be added for anyone who does a weekly task involving seeding the site with a minimum amount of events/housing/forsale posts that would not take more than a couple hours in one day. As time would go on (since the posts stay up for 30 days and students will post continuously) that task will take less and less time (only takes a few minutes a week for me). So there’s your $10/hr.

    If that wasn’t enough, there’s an EXTRA 2 dollars an hour ($12 total) for working more than 15 hours in one week… if STILL that wasn’t enough there’s an extra 5 dollars an hour for have a certain amount of users sign up per week ($17) and ANOTHER 5 dollars an hour ($22) for having a certain amount of posts per week. I’m not sure what other part time college job would offer that much for something so easy.

    So say let’s see… 15 hrs times 22 dollars (capped). Maybe I shouldn’t be sharing this information with you. We Uloopers are happy with our pay and confused as to why two people (dating, by the way) would team up to attack their job and offend their co-workers. Now, it seems the media has exaggerated this story into a question that remains unclear, "Is expressing interest on forming a union on a company message board no different from posting it in the employee break room?" It’s weird how this question came up from inaccurate claims. I’ll admit it’s a good question. But even if it was in an employee break room, it would be in the best interest of the company for it to be taken down if it contains innappropriate slander against the company and causing workers to think twice about a job that has remained loyal to its workers.

    Although I know it is a legal right, I find it, and this is my opinion, unnecessary to establish a union for a part time job that could not possibly go beyond graduation. This sort of job, or internship, requires a student to be enrolled in a university or college. You cannot be a campus rep, if you have no access to the campus. A 2 year union? It would be pointless for anyone to agree with it anyway. But it’s their right, so be it. I could see how it could be a union if it applied to every website/company marketing campaigns, however the employment of such jobs are widely available. More students apply for these kind of jobs than the employer needs. This is because it is such a flexible job in that it wouldn’t interrupt a student’s academic or social life (unless the student made it that way).

    I would question their morals on the matter. I could go off on a tangent about an anthropological approach to college liberalism. I could also go take this from a psychological and sociological viewpoint considering their are in a relationship together (had they not, would they have complained or had the confidence to say something about it?) but unfortunately it wouldn’t mean anything to the laws we have. Laws are laws. It’s just my own take on it on a moral level… Too bad morals don’t matter right?

    I find it suprising that two students, who sought out to help workers are now deciding to take legal action, which can potentially risk the jobs of other part time students who just need a little money to get by. It’s a bit selfish, especially with the little amount of evidence they have. Although I intend on graduating and probably won’t be able to help out Uloop as most workers will have to face eventually, I still want to look back on it as a positive experience for all of the hard work I have done, working together with others to create a community that aims to help students save money on college needs (textbooks, housing, etc…) that are sometimes unable to reach due to a lack of trusted resources. I don’t want to remember it as a website that had good intentions for college students but betrayed by its own servants because of misbehavior issues, thus mislabeling me as some kind of tool who worked for a "corporation" (they used this word in their post, I don’t know why… the website is pretty new) that eventually left me without a job when I needed one to help out with rent , affected my GPA (internship credit), or effected my social life. Nope, don’t need that. Thanks old buddies for complaining so much that we all have to worry about these things.

     

  • Austin Garrido

    In reponse to your comment…

    First of all the reason why none of the websites have evidences to prove our claim that the company fired Sarah and I for forming a union is because the National Labor Relations Board has all our evidence and that information STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL!  How are the news sources going to get tangible evidence when it’s under lock and key?!?!  I wish I could put the Uloop Union post up to prove you are straight out lying to the readers.  The word "corporation" which you stated “they used this word in their post, I don’t know why” IS NOT USED ONCE!!!  Why are you trying to slant this story?   Pay cut came unannounced that is why other employees posted questions about it!  Look up the topic called “Pay Rate” on Jan 15.  It proves you wrong.  Oh by the way, there was no warning given to us after we posted just immediate termination.  To the people reading this I am sorry I can’t post the information on the website but NLRB does not allow me to do so. 

    I am not sure if this employee was working at the same time I did.  If so he/she would have gone from $10 to, at that time minimum wage of, $8 dollars.  I was pretty angry because I had worked my butt off coming into the winter quarter to find out that Uloop had cut my pay.  It was completely unannounced to all so-cal representatives.  Oh yes and we did receive and email about it.  Yes I remember it was only after the people complained about the pay structure on the Uloop Employee Forum.  When did that happen? Jan 15th, oh yes your right it was an “email dated in January”.  Let me restate that is was a pay decrease.  You can say all you want about getting $22 an hour however when the numbers from the quarter are tested against the new pay structure there was a pay decrease.  Let me fill in the gaps you left off on our pay… “if STILL that wasn’t enough there’s an extra 5 dollars an hour for have 300 CONFIRMED REGISTRATIONS per week   ($17) and ANOTHER 5 dollars an hour ($22) for having 150 POSTS per week.”  To be honest with everyone those goals were reachable by some campuses.  Our old pay was 10 and hour with a 1 dollar for every confirmed registration after 89 dollars.  Just do the math to prove which side is right.   Here you want to try it?  Everyone at home try calculating 15 hours of work and hitting all the goals so you get your 22 an hour VS the old pay of only 10 dollars an hour and a dollar over every confirmed registration after 89. 
    Remember you have 300 confirmed registrations! 
          
    “I find it suprising that two students, who sought out to help workers are now deciding to take legal action, which can potentially risk the jobs of other part time students who just need a little money to get by. It’s a bit selfish, especially with the little amount of evidence they have.”  Wow so I am selfish for using my workers rights which are clearly stated in the Nation Labor Relations Act?  I used the money I earned from Uloop to pay for my schooling.  I put my job on the line to talk to other workers about our rights and I am selfish?  A company can not be allowed to abuse power and  this case has grown bigger then just me.  Now it has gone all the way to Washington and might even set a new precedent for workers trying to unionize.  So this is not about me this is about our rights as workers!

    “Thanks old buddies for complaining so much that we all have to worry about these things.“  Your welcome old buddy, someone has to stand up for our rights.          

    If anyone wishes to look up information they can use to the case number, under the freedom of information act, to find out any information that is not confidential.  You can talk to Sarah and I at marginalized.student.workers@gmail.com

     

  • Auto Transport Company

    This is a cool idea- but don’t most college campuses have their own systems in place? I know that mine did…