October-November 2022 Advocate: AFT launches Discord platform

Union-member communications

AFT launches Discord platform for member discussion and engagement

By Evan Kaiser, CSM ESL Professor and AFT 1493 CSM Executive Committee Co-Rep.

During this phase of the Workload Pilot Program, which aims to quantify and limit our workload, questions and concerns have arisen regarding the construction and submission of these plans in a consistent manner. More broadly, given the enduring nature of hybrid and virtual meetings and instruction, some opportunities to build solidarity with colleagues and discuss contract provisions are not as available as they once were.

In response, AFT is launching a Discord server to facilitate 2-way communication in order to engage more of our members.

What is Discord, and how do I use it?

Discord is a free communications service and instant messaging platform. Each “server” has a dedicated purpose; while some are public and dedicated to entertainment and leisure, Discord is growing in popularity as a private workplace messaging application or as a supplement to a college course to facilitate student interaction.

AFT1493’s Discord server

How do I join?

First, create an account and download the app. Then, you can request to be added to our AFT1493 server and an EC member will approve it. Our server is invite-only and will initially only support text, not video; however, files such as spreadsheets and word documents can easily be shared. Once invited, you will find different text channels, each focusing on a subtopic related to contract negotiations, solidarity, workload pilot issues, and part-time faculty issues. A moderator from our EC will add more of these as needed. See this beginner’s guide to Discord for more information.

I’m concerned that this will just add more work. I’m already drowning in emails!

I totally get it. Of course, as union members, we seek to limit the amount of non-teaching work we do! I felt this concern when I proposed that my Department create a Discord server. However, a year later, I have found that Discord allows us to share information and brainstorm quickly. It has dramatically reduced my work email volume, and I find the layout of topical channels much more intuitive than long email threads.

The bottom line

Much of our work, including union organizing, has transitioned into the online space. A platform such as Discord offers an efficient and flexible mechanism not just for 1-way feedback to union leadership but for 2-way conversations with other colleagues who have busy lives or who live and work in different counties. It further emphasizes that the union is not its leadership; we are all the union!