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e-Unions

Organized labor is looking for new turf-your dotcom.

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This story appears in the June 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Netpreneurs, listen up. Well-publicized union movements at sites like Amazon.com may seem far away, but they have a host of implications for smaller Web businesses. Bill Schurgin, labor and employment partner with law firm Seyfarth Shaw, explains dotcom union efforts this way: "Unions are a business. The product unions sell is representation. The traditional markets [for] unions are shrinking. Like any good business, unions are looking for new markets to sell their products, and one of the fastest-growing is technology-based companies."

The workers trying to unionize aren't programmers, analysts or IT professionals, but rather nonsalaried customer service, warehouse and distribution employees. At both consumer electronics site Etown (where unionization attempts were underway before the site shut down in February) and Amazon, the focus has been on customer service specialists. Drivers and warehouse workers at Internet grocer Webvan have also been targets.

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