Since winning the J.M. Kaplan Innovation Prize in November 2015, Coworker.org has supported worker petitions aimed at improving the workplace at companies and freelancers working in the gig economy. The J.M. Kaplan Innovation Prize is a grant that supports social entrepreneurs across the United States who are spearheading game-changing solutions to our society’s most urgent challenges. Coworker.org fits that requirement: it is a unique, DC-based, woman-owned nonprofit and online platform that provides a website and technology for individuals or groups of employees to launch campaigns that aim to improve workers’ conditions. Hundreds of thousands of people have joined Coworker.org efforts and successfully supported projects that implemented fundamental changes for employees in their work life.Often, this means giving far-flung workers a much bigger voice and say when it comes to policies that affect them. There are many campaigns for a broad variety of causes on Coworker.org: better parental benefits, being able to show tattoos and wear beards or dreadlocks at work, getting a manager fired for assaulting an employee, or for professional women soccer players to not play on turf, Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays off — anything that helps individuals or groups can happen when people organize themselves through platforms like Coworker.org.
One recent success: a campaign joined by thousands of Netflix customers and employees that led to the company expanding its paid parental leave for hourly employees. Employees in the streaming, DVD, and customer service divisions will now receive fully paid parental leave. Additionally, the new policy will cover paternity leave and adoptions. Many parents working at Netflix will be grateful for this significant benefit that was made possible with help from the Coworker.org campaign.
These are two other examples for winning campaigns on Coworker.org:
Starbucks changed its scheduling policy to prevent “clopenings” (back-to-back closing and opening shifts) ensuring that baristas get enough rest in between shifts
Jimmy John’s updated its dress code allowing employees to show tattoos and wear dreadlocks.
What’s next for Coworker.org? They have been using their J.M. Kaplan grant to add to staff and their online tools and infrastructure to support current and new campaigns from Starbucks to WeWork to Uber drivers.