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Organizing a labor union? There's an app for that made right here in Peoria

Union members protest at Harvard University in May over an increasing number of harassment and discrimination cases. The union began an indefinite strike Tuesday, with one of its key proposals aimed at strengthening protections against harassment and discrimination.
Michael Dwyer
/
AP
Union members protest at Harvard University in May over an increasing number of harassment and discrimination cases. The union began an indefinite strike Tuesday, with one of its key proposals aimed at strengthening protections against harassment and discrimination.

A mobile app developed in Peoria seeks to move union organizing into the digital age.

"Mittee is an organizing platform for both people trying to organize their workplaces into a union and for also union membership management. And integral to the project is kind of connecting these two facets," said co-developer Jarred, who asked to go only by his first name for fear of employer reprisal.

Jarred said the Mittee app is double-sided. One end focuses on forming committees for non-union workplaces attempting to organize. Features include screenshot protection and member verification, as well as custom group chats and digital authorization cards.

Union management tools also exist for currently organized unions. That includes features like storage for documents and bylaws, custom polling issues programs, dues tracking, and an informal grievance reporting section.

Jarred said the Mittee team got together to create the app in 2019. He said unionization efforts soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, at workplaces like Amazon warehouses and Starbucks locations.

"These victories can hopefully become like a symbolic victory for people who have maybe thought of it, but have not, you know, unfortunately, been able to take the steps that they needed to get organized," he said.

Jarred said the hope is to eventually scale the app up to a national scale, and provide an adhesive he said is missing from the modern-day labor movement - though he said it's complementary to traditional organizing, not a replacement.

"A lot of the organization now goes on and Facebook groups or on apps like Discord or Signal, but there's nothing that's specifically tailored to the needs of the labor movement, and we saw that need and hopefully we're able to meet it. We want to make it a sort of democratic process," he said.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.