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What Organized Labor and Airlines Have in Common What Organized Labor and Airlines Have in Common

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Blogs / Influence

What Organized Labor and Airlines Have in Common

September 18, 2012

You've heard of frequent flier miles, rewards cards and club memberships--all attempts by companies to get and keep your business. Now, organized labor is betting a similar program will "build permanent activism" in the political realm.

Workers' Voice, the AFL-CIO's political action committee, launched its RePurpose program that rewards volunteers with points that can be redeemed for political expenditures. So volunteers spend time at a phone bank, for instance, and they earn points. Once they've accumulated enough, they can redeem them in any political race they want, as long as the candidate has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO. Redeem them for what? Think yard signs for your Facebook page, Google ads, or even mailers.

Asked why it was pursuing the points-reward system, as opposed to the more typical here's-a-bumper-sticker-for-your-phone-banking efforts, AFL-CIO's digital department director Jared Schwartz said that unscientific polls of volunteers showed they were less likely to give their time when those kinds of rewards were offered.

"Giving people a bumper sticker doesn't equate with how important they think the work they're doing is," Schwartz said.

Asked how many volunteers he expected would participate and how big the program would be, AFL-CIO political director Michael Podhorzer said they didn't have any figures in mind.

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