Other Group

WorkIt

Website:

https://www.workitapp.org/

Formation:

2016

Location:

Oakland, CA

Type:

Smartphone App

Founders:

Catherine Huang, Andrea Dehlendorf

WorkIt is an organized labor smartphone app that aims to distribute information about workers’ rights, labor unions, and the labor movement to the public. It was founded by labor activists Catherine Huang and Andrea Dehlendorf in 2016 [1] and was initially targeted mainly at employees of retail giant Walmart. [2]

Background

WorkIt’s founders, Catherine Huang and Andrea Dehlendorf, both work at United for Respect, a labor advocacy organization. According to WorkIt’s profile on FastFoward’s technology directory, the app was developed by United For Respect’s ancestor of the same name, a publicity campaign created in 2010 by the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW). [3] At that time, the campaign was known as OUR Walmart, whose co-director Dan Schlademan at the time stated that the app and the campaign in general was “not currently seeking to unionize Walmart” but to “continue to build OUR Walmart and use collective action to create change at Walmart.” [4]

Function

WorkIt grounds its service in a claim that information regarding workers’ rights and organizing methods are restricted, and that this restriction keeps workers “isolated and disempowered.” It therefore aims to create educational materials and spread them to as many low-wage workers as possible for the benefit of the organized labor movement in the United States. [5]

At the time of release, WorkIt was primarily focused on Walmart workers. According to USA Today, the app initially had a chat function where users could ask questions to current and former Walmart employees. OUR Walmart hired tech developer Quadrant 2 to create an artificial intelligence tool using IBM Watson technology to take over the answering of queries. [6]

The app asks for the user’s name, email, phone number, and zip code, and gives them the option to input their job title and place of employment. [7]

Funding

According to FastFoward, WorkIt counts among its donors the Omidyar Network, Ford Foundation, Irvine Foundation, Media Democracy Fund (a project of New Venture Fund), Groundswell, and Workers Lab. [8]

Leadership

Andrea Dehlendorf, the executive director of United for Respect, co-founded WorkIt in January 2016. [9] She was the assistant director of Making Change at Walmart from February 2011 to May 2015. [10]

Catherine Huang founded WorkIt with Dehlendorf. She is the chief technology officer at United for Respect and former director of technology at Citizen Engagement Laboratory (CEL), a left-of-center 501(c)(4) political consulting group. [11]

References

  1. “WorkIt, United for Respect – Tech Nonprofit Directory.” FastForward. Accessed 12 June 2022. https://www.ffwd.org/tech-nonprofits/s/workit-united-for-respect/. ^
  2.  Snider, Mike. “Walmart, labor group clash over app that connects employees.” USA Today, 15 November 2016. Accessed 12 June 2022. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2016/11/15/walmart-labor-group-clash-over-employee-app/93890300/. ^
  3. “WorkIt, United for Respect – Tech Nonprofit Directory.” FastForward. Accessed 12 June 2022. https://www.ffwd.org/tech-nonprofits/s/workit-united-for-respect/. ^
  4.  Snider, Mike. “Walmart, labor group clash over app that connects employees.” USA Today, 15 November 2016. Accessed 12 June 2022. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2016/11/15/walmart-labor-group-clash-over-employee-app/93890300/. ^
  5. “WorkIt, United for Respect – Tech Nonprofit Directory.” FastForward. Accessed 12 June 2022. https://www.ffwd.org/tech-nonprofits/s/workit-united-for-respect/. ^
  6. Snider, Mike. “Walmart, labor group clash over app that connects employees.” USA Today, 15 November 2016. Accessed 12 June 2022. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2016/11/15/walmart-labor-group-clash-over-employee-app/93890300/. ^
  7. Snider, Mike. “Walmart, labor group clash over app that connects employees.” USA Today, 15 November 2016. Accessed 12 June 2022. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2016/11/15/walmart-labor-group-clash-over-employee-app/93890300/ ^
  8. “WorkIt, United for Respect – Tech Nonprofit Directory.” FastForward. Accessed 12 June 2022. https://www.ffwd.org/tech-nonprofits/s/workit-united-for-respect/. ^
  9. “Andrea Dehlendorf.” LinkedIn. Accessed 6 June 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrea-dehlendorf-262214a7. ^
  10. “Andrea Dehlendorf – Executive Director.” United for Respect. Accessed 6 June 2022. https://united4respect.org/andrea-dehlendorf/. ^
  11. “Huang, Catherine.” LinkedIn. Accessed 12 June 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mizcat/. ^
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