TUC Digital Lab events

Upcoming events

15 Jul 2024 – Visualising data for union bargaining and organising
11am, online (note revised date) – We all know the best decisions are grounded in relevant and accurate data. But how do you get that data to the people in a union who need it, and how do you support them to understand it? One important development could be the growth of dedicated business analytics tools in unions, such as Tableau and Microsoft Power BI. These help users visualise data and interact with it, without needing to develop their own deep skills in data analysis. In this webinar, we’ll hear from innovative projects at UCU and ITF, aimed at making union data more accessible and actionable. Register online here

Past events

16 Jan 2019 – Innovation in unions: Lessons from Denmark – HK Lab Programme Leader Mathias Askholm told us us how HK built a major innovation programme and developed a culture of digital change across the union. 

23 Jan 2019 – Tech tools for organisersAction Network’s Brian Young gave a sneak preview of US unions’ major new organising toolkit, Action Builder, and talked about how it was co-operatively designed with unions, to make things easier for organisers. 

29 Jan 2019 – Creating Social Media Videos for UnionsAlterEco‘s Richard Roaf introduced the creative and technical skills needed to create a short social media video on your mobile phone.

7 Feb 2019 – Online to offline organising – OUR WalMart Director Dan Schlademan told us how they support local branches and campaigns with a ladder of online engagement.

12 Feb 2019 – Digital innovation: the Co-op approach – A workplace tour and presentation by Co-op Digital in Manchester, showing how they manage their extensive transformation work to improve member and customer experiences.

26 Feb 2019 – Digital transformation in unions – A strategy workshop to develop a first draft of a set of design principles for union digital transformation projects. Read more on the 8 principles here.

26 Apr 2019 – Welcoming new members to your union: Digital Lab workshop #1 – Many unions are working on modernising their online joining processes, and getting good results. But getting people to join is only the first stage. What happens next is just as important if we’re to keep them in membership longer term. How can we give new members a warm welcome to the union, and provide the information, services and opportunities they might need in the first weeks after becoming a member? Read the workshop report here.

29 Apr 2019 – #digitalunions meetup. Evening meetup for union digital officers, to hear the experiences and learnings from four different union digital projects.

15 May 2019 – How to make the most out of Facebook and Twitter
Webinar with the TUC digital comms team on how trade unionists can use features on social media to organise, network and campaign. 

23 May 2019 – Campaigning to win with digital: TUC Digital Lab workshop #2
How can we take advantage of digital to boost our unions’ ability to win campaigns? A Digital Lab practical workshop looking at how digital-first organisations approach campaigning, and where there are opportunities to take next steps in our unions. Read the workshop report here.

18 Jun 2019 – Successful union balloting with digital: TUC Digital Lab workshop #3
How digital can make it easier to seek and gain mandates from our membership. How we can maximise statutory ballot turnouts? How we can increase the efficiency and reach of indicative balloting?

27 Jun 2019 – Effective email writing for union campaigns
A small group training course aimed at helping union comms and campaigns staff to write more impactful email for mobilisation. The format worked well and we could run this again if there’s demand, so let us know if you’d like to see this course happening again.

8 Jul 2019- Optimising union digital: How to engage both members and non-members online – Alex Lloyd Hunter of Forward Action discussed key strategies, tactics and processes you need to run an effective digital engagement that helps recruit new members, retain existing ones, and boost your campaigning. Read some of the insights here.

24 Jul 2019 – Union organising in the digital age: TUC Digital Lab workshop #4 – The 4th Digital Lab workshop looked at digital tools and techniques to make our existing organising approach more effective. Write-up coming soon. Read the workshop report here.

16 Aug 2019 – Digital content for unions: Strategy and delivery. Digital Lab workshop #5 – Led by content strategy agency Contentious, this session was about working out how to prioritise the content members need; Developing clear, engaging digital content, and Understanding whether it’s working for members. Read the workshop report here.

9 Sep 2019 – Meeting the challenges of digital: Digital Lab at Congress 2019 – Congress 2019 fringe workshop, run in partnership with the Centre for the Acceleration of Social Technology, to help people from all roles across the movement to identify the challenges they face in making the most of digital.

13 Sep 2019 – Effective email writing for union campaigns – A small group training course helping union comms and campaigns staff to write more impactful email for mobilisation. 

20 Sep 2019 – Using data to build trade unions: TUC Digital Lab workshop #6 – In this TUC Digital Lab session discovered and shared best practice in: Building learning from data into union digital projects; Improving the quality of our data; Understanding data protection and data ethics.

29 Oct 2019, London – Service design for unions: TUC Digital Lab workshop #7. A TUC Digital Lab workshop looking at how we can improve union services and processes, how they’re designed and delivered to meet the growing expectations of our members, and how we can make the best use of digital tools and techniques to help us do it.

7 Nov 2019, Webinar – Organising the next generation of workers. TUC Education webinar with two young trade unionists taking about the work that they’ve done to organise young workers in Yorkshire and the Humber. Watch the reply here (and see this post for more background).

8 Nov 2019, London – Using digital in election and referendum campaigns: TUC Digital Lab workshop #8. Elections are now fought online as much as on the doorstep, and the technology changes with every political cycle. A campaign is a hectic time to get across our key messages and we can’t afford to get behind on digital if we want cut through. This workshop looked at how unions can make the most of the new technologies and approaches on offer.

28 Feb 2020, London – CRM and systems change for trade unions – A seminar for TUC affiliated unions on getting the most out of our CRM systems and membership databases, and running system change projects.

25 Mar 2020, online – Unions working remotely. A round table event on how unions are adapting to the requirements of working from home during the lockdown. Read a write-up here.

9-11 Jul, online – Organise 2020. 10 digital sessions as part of the TUC’s festival of ideas in union organising.

5 Nov 2020 – Hybrid union events – lessons from our first virtual Congress. Webinar on what we learned in taking Congress 2020 online. Read a case study here.

10 Nov 2020 – Digital organising strategies to build collective power. Webinar on the findings of Tectonica’s digital organising survey. Watch the presentations here.

18 Dec 2020 – How are unions producing their online conferences? – Webinar on running virtual union conferences, with case studies from NEU national conference and STUC Congress. Read a report and watch the video here.

17 Mar 2021 – The New Normal for unions
Workshop for senior union leaders, focusing on the challenges faced by unions in adjusting to the long term changes caused or accelerated by the pandemic.

15 Apr 2021 – Socially distant campaigning: tactics for unions
How new campaigning tactics have been used in union campaigns in over 2020, and the lessons learned. 

Apr 2021 – Leading Digital Change in unions
Update module for alumni of the TUC’s Leading Change leadership development programme prior to 2020. This course introduced issues around organisational change related to digitisation in unions. 

12 Aug 2021 – Digital approaches to case management for unions
Seminar on how unions are using new case management tools to work faster, with greater resilience and with greater understanding of their members’ needs. Watch a recorded video of the presentations here.

1 Oct 2021 – Unions adapting to the new normal
Collaborative workshop to discuss our recent research on the challenges for unions that will remain as the pandemic subsides.

26 Oct 2021 – Defining your union’s organising “tech stack”
A workshop discussing the many new tech tools and services that have helped organisers and reps innovate over the pandemic. How can we define and support a “tech stack” in the union that helps empower reps, whilst reducing risk and cost for the union? Read the workshop report here.

7 Dec 2021 – Improving the union experience for online-only members
A growing proportion of our members have never been to a physical union event or talked in person to a rep. Colleagues from TUC affiliates met to discuss the needs of our currently online-only members, and what being a union member feels like to them. Read the workshop report here.

9 Feb 2022 – Digital Lab office hours
First TUC Digital Lab office hours session of 2022. Discussing search engines, with SEO consultant Simon Parry.

21 Mar 2022 – Unions and Microsoft 365: A TUC Digital Lab surgery
Online surgery session with consultant Randy Perkins-Smart (Qaixen/Acert), looking through the many apps that make up MS365. We saw how MS365 can be used to foster greater cross-union collaboration, and how a strategic IT view of the suite also allows you to integrate functions to create your own new tools, specific to your union’s needs. 

8 Jun 2022 – Digital Lab office hours – Online campaigning
Open discussion on all aspects of digital campaigning. Featuring a presentation from special guest Eric Lee of LabourStart, which marks 20 years of online solidarity campaigns this year. Read the session write up here.

13 Jul 2022 – We Demand Beta: Digital responses to the cost of living crisis
With the cost of living crisis and the union response to it has come a higher profile for unions and our issues. This summer offers a huge chance for the movement to engage more widely with members and with unorganised workers. Read the report of this workshop here.

1 Sep 2022 – Social Media trends for unions in 2022
In-person session on key trends unions should consider to keep social media comms effective in 2022. Read a follow up blog here.

20 Sep 2022 – CRM for unions
Digital Lab workshop looking into issues for unions in choosing and developing their core member data technologies. Read the report of this workshop here.

22 Nov 2022 – CRM for unions: understanding where to start
A practical workshop giving hands on experience of some of the techniques unions will need to plan and deliver big tech change projects.

22 Nov 2022 – Next steps in CRM for unions – getting the most from modern systems
Webinar with PCS Head of Technology Services, Paul Hawkins, on the work PCS have done since moving to their new Salesforce platform, and where their plans will take them next. Read the write-up blog here.

16 Feb 2023 – Building CRM together – webinar with ACTU – Chris Walton from the ACTU’s Union Innovation Hub has negotiated and developed the IMIS for Unions platform, now used by more than 30 Australian unions. Chris Walton and Stephen Gargano joined a Digital Lab webinar to tell us about how and why they decided to tackle CRM as a movement-wide issue. Read the writeup blog here.

31 Mar 2023 – Union campaigners’ summit – Event looking at the challenges for unions in preparation to run major campaigns more effectively and with greater agility. Covered topics including data accuracy and flexibility, growing digital channels, engagement optimisation and regulations compliance. Read the full write-up here.

04 Apr 2023 – Designing your union’s digital dashboard – Drawing on our new report, Sam Jeffers outlined our template framework for unions in developing their use of analytics. Watch the recording here.

21 Apr 2023 – Understanding your union’s direct debit options – As unions evolve their membership systems, taking payments reliably is a core requirement. Zentso’s Jyoti Hull-Jurkovic outlined the different options for unions’ current and future CRM systems, and key benefits or pitfalls to look out for in picking a provider. Read more and watch the presentation here.

24 May 2023 – Change management to support union tech projects – Implementing a new CRM or other core tech project without paying attention to how you manage the change risks at best missing out on key benefits, and at worst, damaging the union at its heart. Independent advisor, Steve Pye of Acert Associates shared insights on how change works, in the union CRM project context. Watch the presentation here.

30 May 2023 – Getting the best deals on tech for unions – lessons from negotiation and union group-buying Congress House, London – Chris Walton from the ACTU on what their Union Innovation Hub have learned about getting the best deals when buying tech products and services. From CRM licensing to SMS and payment processing costs, the Hub have struck a huge range of deals with different providers.

30 May 2023 – Introduction to IMIS for unions. What can the ACTU’s membership tools offer UK unions? – Congress House, London – ACTU’s Chris Walton showcased the CRM tools that the Hub have developed for Australian unions, and talk about how the model would work in the UK and elsewhere.

13 Jun 2023 – An introduction to Salesforce CRM for trade unions – Online – Salesforce is the world’s largest cloud CRM platform, powering organisations in all sectors, including unions. Experts from Salesforce and implementer Bluewave told us what makes the platform and its approach distinct from other CRMs on the market. Watch the presentation here.

27 Jun 2023 – An introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM for trade unionsonline – Dynamics is Microsoft’s CRM platform and one of the major options in today’s cloud CRM market. Experts from Microsoft implementation partner Incremental told us about what makes the platform and its approach distinct from other CRMs on the market Watch the presentation here.

5 Jul 2023 – An introduction to iMIS EMS for trade unionsonline – iMIS is a purpose-build member Engagement Management System (EMS), including CRM, AMS and CMS, using a single database – and with a dedicated version providing tools specifically for unions. In this informal Experts from iMIS parent company ASI told us about what makes iMIS and its approach distinct from other CRMs on the market. Watch the presentation here.

30 Aug 2023 – Award-winning tools for reps: NEU case study
NEU won best activist communication category in this year’s TUC Comms Awards, for the digital and data toolset they built and provided reps and branches during their pay campaign. Their national Communicator, Dashboard and Activate platforms allowed strategic decisions to be made and targeting to be deployed at a national level. The NEU’s Mike Joslin joined us for a webinar. Watch the recording here.

5 Sep 2023 – Measuring member engagement
Digital technologies allow unions many more opportunities to check in with our members. We can find out how they view the union and how they might want to engage with the opportunities we offer. At a member level, the data lets us give members an experience that better fits their expectations. And at an aggregate level it’s really powerful in developing membership strategies for the union. This webinar heard about work in two unions that are seeking to better understand and quantify member engagement, and find ways to act on it. Read the CSP case study and Equity case study.

12 Sep 2023 – TUC Digital Lab – Changing our unions to grow and win
This fringe for Congress 2023 heard stories of innovation from across unions.

26 Sep 2023 – Creating digital programmes to retain members
Over the cost-of-living crisis unions have won significant victories on pay for members. But in a difficult period for household budgets, many have looked at their monthly outgoings, and cut back on things – including union membership. Amid these pressures, unions need to do everything they can to retain members: listening to how members feel about the value of union membership; identifying lapsing members and finding ways to retain them; bringing lapsed members back into membership; and improving analytics about churn and retention. Read the write up of this workshop session.

29 Nov 2023 – Managing union membership data when changing CRM
One of the biggest risks around a new union CRM project is transitioning member data correctly from your old system into the new one, without losing any existing data, introducing any errors, or ending up with data which can’t be used in the way you’d intended. The complexity of this work is often undersold by vendors, and unions can find themselves on their own, with complications and costs they hadn’t anticipated. In this session, consultants John Chadfield and Eth Morgan outlined the steps a project needs to take to plan a successful move.

1 Dec 2023 – Switching members from check-off to direct debit subscriptions
Government plans to change payroll dues deduction in the public sector are a risk to a number of unions. Unions considering switching members onto direct debit to avoid this only have a few months to take action. This online workshop heard from TUC Senior Policy Officer Sian Elliott on the changes and their implications, PCS Head of Digital Organising Julie Young on what the union did when they faced a similar threat in 2015, what they learned from it, and how they’ve used this to build a new digital tool, and Sam Jeffers of JoinTogether on designing campaigns for maximum success. Read the report here.

11 Dec 2023 – How Megaphone can support union campaigns
Since 2019, Megaphone has hosted more than 400 union campaigns, with nearly two million online actions taken by supporters. The platform offers online petitions, email updates, crowdfunding, distributed events and emails to targets, all free for TUC affiliates to use directly themselves, and with best-practice campaign advice and support from the team. Affiliates have used the system to campaign on union policy, directly support members in dispute, and to reach new workers in organising campaigns.

07 Mar 2024 – What could AI do for unions? Where should we start on AI? – A pair of in-person workshops on the theme of using Artificial Intelligence inside our unions. We explored how generative AI tools might improve the efficiency and quality of unions’ own operations. Read the workshop report here.

22 Mar 2024 – Cyber security challenges and strategies for unions – Webinar on the big challenges facing unions in keeping our digital systems safe. We discussed practical steps we can consider, and approaches to putting a plan in place. Watch the presentation video here.

25 Apr 2024 – Managing shadow IT in unions: How do we keep innovation without adding risk?
Shadow IT is a union’s unofficial software ecosystem – all the different tech tools used by reps and staff, often without the knowledge of the union IT team. It’s also one of most unions’ biggest tech risks and needs a dedicated focus to mitigate. Watch the presentation video here.

29 May 2024 Digital Campaigning vs Junk Politics
Can unions use new digital campaign approaches to rebuild positive engagement in politics? A hybrid seminar with Ned Howey and Kendall Bendheim of international digital organising agency Tectonica.

3 Jun 2024 – Digital change and growth in unions, with Chris Walton of ACTU
Chris Walton from the ACTU’s Union Innovation Hub joined us to talk about tech project management lessons from running 30 union CRM change projects in Australia, and what their team had learned in how technology can support member retention.