Uloop Pulls A Trump Move
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.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.