Michelle Miller is the co-founder of Coworker.org, a digital platform that matches campaigning tools with organizing, media and legal support to help people change their working conditions. Since its founding in 2013, Coworker.org has catalyzed the growth of global, independent employee networks at major companies like Starbucks, Wells Fargo, Olive Garden and US Airways. Michelle’s early work developing Coworker.org was supported by a 2012 Practitioner Fellowship at Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. She is a 2014 Echoing Green Global Fellow.
Before co-founding Coworker.org, Michelle spent a decade at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) where she pioneered creative projects that advanced union campaigns. She is also a nationally recognized media artist and cultural organizer. Most recently, she directed the participatory media creation process for Hollow, a 2014 Peabody award-winning interactive documentary about her home state of West Virginia.
Coworker.org is a digital platform that supports the growth of independent, worker-led networks inside companies. Since our founding in 2013, we’ve catalyzed the growth of these networks among Uber drivers, Wells Fargo bank tellers, Darden restaurant employees and Starbucks Baristas among many others primarily through digital organizing campaigns launched and led by workers on a variety of issues. We see these networks as emergent forms of decentralized collective structures that will operate horizontally in workplaces, shifting power and leading to more democratic practices. We’re experimenting with a combination of technology and staff support interventions to make this possible, with the ultimate goal of creating a space for collaboration, data and information sharing, campaign creation and mutual aid among global networks of workers. These experiments start with a series of basic questions: How do we build peer visibility among workers in a digital space? How does that visibility lead to a collective sense of power and ongoing collaboration? How do we thoughtfully apply staff expertise to the networks while maintaining the distance that allows for truly imaginative, worker-led collective building? And how can we mitigate material risk to workers in this process of experimentation?