Web & Blogs

No Free Server Space, No Peace

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I guess I can sorta' see the left-wing appeal of a "Unionize the Bloggers!" cry. It's got that "let's carry this important leftist institution into the 21st Century" kind of vibe.

I guess the question is, against whom would they be unionizing? Moveable Type? Google? Right-wing blogs? The article suggests they'd be agitating for health insurance (paid for by whom?), better ad rates (bloggers set their own rates!), and press credentials. The latter is especially odd. If I only give press credentials to traditional media for my event, left-wing blogs are going to protest by, what, not attending an event they couldn't have attended anyway?

"Collective bargaining power" sounds all righteous and stuff, but again, who would be at the other end of the bargaining table? There is no corporate overlord from whom to demand better wages and benefits. Yes, many bloggers toil away at their keyboards for long hours and little pay. But um…it's a hobby, folks. If you're working too hard at your blog, stop working at your blog. Want a longer vacation? Take one!

Perhaps this passage clears things up:

Sitting at a panel titled "A Union for Bloggers: It's Time to Organize" at this week's YearlyKos Convention for bloggers in Chicago, Burgard said she'd welcome a chance to join a unionized blogging community.

"I sure would like to have that union bug on my Web site," said Burgard, a blogger who uses the moniker Bendy Girl.

Madrak hopes that regardless the form, the labor movement ultimately will help bloggers pay for medical bills. It's important, she said, because some bloggers can spend hours a day tethered to computers as they update their Web sites.

"Blogging is very intense—physically, mentally," she said. "You're constantly scanning for news. You're constantly trying to come up with information that you think will mobilize your readers. In the meantime, you're sitting at a computer and your ass is getting wider and your arm and neck and shoulder are wearing out because you're constantly using a mouse."

In other words, she wants someone to pay her for her hobby. Me too!

I'm also puzzled as to what sort of bargaining power a lefty bloggers' union would actually have. Will they wage de-linking campaigns? Boycotts? Strikes? If all the left-wing bloggers went on strike tomorrow, I'm fairly sure the Internets would survive. Factories would still churn out widgets. The subways would still run. Hell, a strike might marginally speed up load times. Also, where would they picket?

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  1. So nobody will ever get to read my posts because Kos and Atrios have seniority? Great.

  2. It’s lefty bloggers. Nothing they could possibly say or want would surprise me.

  3. All I can hope at this point is that Pennsylvania is a “right to blog” state.

  4. next up: Hikers – Unionize against Big Mountain! You have nothing to lose but your slavery to the forces of gravity and physics!

  5. If bloggers go on strike, does that mean we’ll be required to do actual work instead of blogging?

  6. I don’t see what the problem is. Hell, I’d pay them not to work with my own money if I could.

  7. Can these people really be this stupid? They’re just pulling a great prank, right?

  8. If you didn’t participate in this union, would you be considered a spoiler? Would union blogs only ever link to other union blogs? The horrors

  9. Ron: great stuff. 🙂

    Tee: One can only hope that Kos would go on strike. With luck, he could end up just like the old LA Herald Examiner’s ex-employees who figure (some 35 years later) that they’re still on strike.

    This is a perfect example of why there is no hope. That any halfway intelligent being could seriously entertain the notion of forming a blogger’s labor union is certainly somewhere to the left of around the bend.

  10. RM, not a spoiler, A FARGIN’ SCAB Blogger, or Scablogger. Wonder if Huffington will hire a homeless guy to picket online for her.

  11. Since unions’ powers come exclusively from their ability to exclude competitors from the game, any successful blogging union would require some system of credentials to suppress independent press from reporting the news… which kind of misses the point, no?

  12. COMMENTERS ARE SCABS! THEY STEAL THE BREAD OFF THE TABLE OF REAL BLOGGERS.

  13. Epi, Big Sigh. As Vica used to say, the world is wide but it is not deep.

  14. ::falls off the edge of his chair, laughing::

    Damn. I needed that. Wow.

  15. I’m curious as how to the Urkobold? feels about unionizing bloggers…

  16. That second passage doesn’t clear anything up, but it does confirm pretty much every negative stereotype about labor activists and liberal bloggers I have, and in the end isn’t that the true meaning of YearlyKos?

  17. It’s got that “let’s carry this important leftist institution into the 21st Century” kind of vibe.

    More like a, “lets drag this important institution back to the 20th Century and down the toilet, just like the US automobile industry!”

  18. While “unionizing” doesn’t seem to make sense, it does make sense for them organize. They can buy insurance at a better rate. They can probably also get whatever the hell bloggers need to blog about the blogosphere cheaper. They could probably also get higher ad rates, but that could also backfire. Just like most industries that have a trade association, bloggers could benefit from that type of organizing.

    Of course they wouldn’t go on “strike” so much as they would boycott certain products or encourage their blogees to do the same.

  19. Sorry Radley, saw the R and immediately decided it said Ron Bailey. Am I on drugs? So much for eyewitness accounts….

    Great stuff Radley!

  20. So their all socialist,who knew?

  21. So their all socialist,who knew?

    Labor unionism isn’t necessarily a socialist measure, nor is it necessarily unlibertarian even from an anarcho-capitalist viewpoint. Many classical liberals were in support of labor unions, unless my memory doesn’t serve me right.

  22. Would union blogs only ever link to other union blogs?

    More to the point will they slash the tires of Scabloggers? (credit for coining that word to TWC).

    Is there an Internet equivalent of slashing tires?

  23. Unions are perfectly compatible with libertarianism. What isn’t is unions with legally-backed power to exclude or negotiate on behalf of nonunion workers.

    If the workers want to collectively bargain with their employers, they’re welcome to whatever contract provisions they can wring, and the law should provide for enforcement of these contracts (as well as for prohibition of intimidation/assault against, and on the part of, any participants). Similarly, employers ought to be able to collectively bargain, except insofar as they specifically threaten nonparticipating companies. Beyond that, the law has no place in these negotiations.

  24. Is there an Internet equivalent of slashing tires?

    DNS attacks.

    BTW, How does “denial of service” get acronymized to DNS?

  25. Are strike breaking bloggers Sloggs or Scobbs or scoggs?

  26. BTW, How does “denial of service” get acronymized to DNS?

    It doesn’t. The acronym is “DOS” (or “DoS”). DNS stands for Domain Name Service, which is how computers know, for example, which server on the Internet corresponds to “www.reason.com”.

  27. Because DOS is already taken

  28. What Radley Balko doesn’t get here is that most contempory union negotiations are not with employers, but with legislatures or congress. In my state, the public worker unions fought hard for, and won, to have their right to strike taken away and replaced with binding arbitration. Now, instead of having to deal with their employer, they get a labor-friendly arbitrator to give them a far better deal than they could possibly get even if they went on strike, much less negotiated in good faith.

    This proposal to unionize leftist bloggers is an attempt to make us taxpayers their de facto employers, via legislative handouts.

  29. I never said unions were socialist in whole.A buisness can be socialist also.Socialism is a econmic system.Think before you type

  30. THE URKOBOLD OPPOSES UNIONIZING BLOGGERS. HOWEVER, THERE IS MUCH TO BE SAID FOR ENSLAVING THEM.

  31. We’ll march day and night
    By the big desktop tower
    They have the server
    But we have the power

  32. We’ve heard from the Urkobold?, and I for one find my life enriched. Now, where is joe and Dan T.?

  33. THEY ARE TRAPPED IN THE WOMBY VAULTAGE.

  34. Perhaps the model they’re looking at emulating is the Hollywood unions.

    After all, the SAG and the WGA are composed overwhelmingly of de facto hobbyists who don’t earn enough at their craft to live off of it. They still have unions, and are able to obtain some benefits as a result. It works in Hollywood because the stars virtually to a man won’t cross picket lines, and this forces the studios to support the unions, thus keeping large numbers of actors who work once a year and writers who work once every five years supplied with union cards and health insurance. I don’t think there are any bloggers with that kind of star power, and I also don’t see who the bloggers think would take the place of the studios here – maybe a few of the bigger media companies with online interests?

  35. “Blogging is very intense — physically”

    This is perhaps the stupidest thing I have ever read from a left-winger (excuse the redundance)

  36. I never said unions were socialist in whole.A buisness can be socialist also.Socialism is a economic system.Think before you type

    Right, Michael, but we should avoid identifying certain things like regulation of big business or labor unionism as specific to one ideology or another: such a fallacy is called a “package deal” and only serves to obfuscate discourse. It was my intention to fight this fallacy, which your comment appeared to harbor, for the sake of the wider discourse.

  37. “I guess the question is, against whom would they be unionizing?”

    The Democrats, silly!

    …and their biggest donors.

    Maybe they think union workers should make forced donations to liberal blogs out of their union dues? …how else are you gonna strike a blow for the common man?

  38. jh – hits this nail on the head. In NY, daycare providers are attempting to Unionize for this very same reason. More state benefits via an urge to collectivize their emotionally charged endeavor.

  39. Scabbing for Big Blog? since 1997…

  40. “We’ll go on strike!” yelled Vroomfondel.

    “That’s right!” agreed Majikthise. “You’ll have a national Philosopher’s strike on your hands!”

  41. How does The Onion even stay in business anymore?

  42. Do liberals even know what the term “labor union” actually means anymore?

    Or do they just think it sounds nice cause they recall their crotchety grandparents talking about them?

  43. Do liberals even know what the term “labor union” actually means anymore?

    Union sounds cooler than guild.

  44. Maybe the guys that just stand on the street corner could form a union too.

    There should be a rule, first you must have a job, then you can have a union.

  45. What? And no commenters’ union?

  46. Do liberals even know what the term “labor union” actually means anymore?

    Union sounds cooler than guild.

    That’s why I’m unionizing my WoW guild. Blizzard will have to think twice before nerfing ‘locks again. No DPS, no peace!

  47. They could probably also get higher ad rates, but that could also backfire. Just like most industries that have a trade association, bloggers could benefit from that type of organizing.

    How’s that Pajamas Media thing going?

  48. In other words, she wants someone to pay her for her hobby.

    Hmm. Considering my hobby costs me $700/month, I’d like some of that too.

  49. Stupidity is non-partisan.

  50. It looks to me like they want to create an organization that bloggers can join which can then bargain for insurance for members: the National Writers Union does something similar now. (Apparently, the NWU is also an organization devoted to fairly left-wing views, so it may be a really good model for a “blogger’s union” formed by attendees of the convention in question.)

    Some unions are, after all, just benefit societies, and the idea isn’t so risible if you think in those terms, instead of in terms of “who will the bloggers strike against?”

  51. This dovetails very nicely with the story from the other day where a UK teacher’s union conference voted to ban You Tube.

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