Instagram meme makers are unionizing…or something like that.
After you’ve stopped laughing, check this out.
There’s a union (of sorts) being formed on the internet. And it involves those nameless, faceless people who make the memes that engage people on Instagram.
“They generate the engagement that helps keep Instagram growing—but, they argue, the multibillion-dollar platform doesn’t pay them for their work, or give them any control,” according to a report in the Atlantic.
So, the meme makers are doing what many downtrodden, exploited workers have done over the years: They’re trying to form a…er…union.
“We’re calling it a union and doing union-organizing tactics,” Paul Praindo, a representative of the organizing committee, told the Atlantic. “We stand in firm support of others who are working to organize anti-labor industries. We think these movements mark the beginning of a labor renaissance.”
They’re calling their union the IG Meme Union Local 69-420. [Clearly, someone had some fun coming up with the local union’s number(s).]
However, it remains unclear how their union would function.
The IG Meme Union does not offer membership, it offer “memebership.” However, it is unclear how much “memebership” dues are.
One basic problem for the IG Meme Union is that virtually anyone can create a meme—and unions can only thrive when the demand for labor is greater than the supply.
“People are doing a lot of work, doing it for free or little compensation, or not recognized for the work they’re doing,” Praindo said. “All these people are bringing revenue to Instagram, producing this major profit margin for this company, and they’re subject to really little job security.”
While some meme makers are better than others, a union often negotiates different rates of pay for its members. That raises additional questions:
Should all meme makers make the same thing, or will there be journeymen “memebers” and will they have apprentices? Perhaps pay will be based on likes? Also, will there be a seniority system?
What will the union do to those people who just like making memes for the fun of it (like those on this post)?
Will people be considered ‘scab’ meme makers?
Another basic problem for the IG Meme Union is that its members (or “memebers”) are not employees under the National Labor Relations Act, nor are they independent contractors for the tech companies.
As a result, the law does not enable them to collectively bargain with “an employer.”
Given all this, there is an even greater problem: A union’s power to negotiate comes from its members ability to withhold their labor (to strike).
Of course, all of this may merely be an elaborate hoax to gain some followers on Instagram.
After all, when Shrek asks ‘who wants to start a memers union,’ one has to wonder whether one is being…‘trolled.’
Only time will tell whether or not the IG Meme Union is something that should be taken seriously or just a joke.