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e-Unions Organized labor is looking for new turf-your dotcom.

By Amanda C. Kooser

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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

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

While they may be a new force in e-commerce companies, unionshave existed for years in such high-tech industries astelecommunications and among key e-tail service suppliers such asUPS. At press time, unions hadn't succeeded in organizingdotcom workers, but entrepreneurs should take note. "Once anindustry becomes a target, the likelihood of unions targeting otheremployers in that industry, even smaller employers,increases," warns Schurgin.

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