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Business Insider and Alykhan Sunderji Break down Efforts To Unionize Tiktok Influencers

Alykhan Sunderji

Seattle Business Lawyer

In the Media

Four Takeaways about Tik Tok Influencers and Unions

Business Insider and Alykhan Sunderji discussed recent efforts by Tiktok influencers to form a union.  You can read the article here by Tanya Chen.

Alykhan also spoke with Samson Amore about this topic in DotLa magazine.  You can read that article here.

Alykhan helped build the Influencer Marketing program at Amazon and regularly advises startups and other companies on their influencer engagements.  You can read more about our advertising and marketing services here.

Key Takeaways

It’s unlikely influencers will form a union

Union protections in the United States are governed by the National Labor Relations Act.  The Act contemplates providing protections to employees within a “bargaining unit” (the definition of the appropriate bargaining unit is often debated heavily during a union push).  However, tik tok influencers are not employees.  They aren’t even contractors. They upload content to a platform as customers.

But that doesn’t mean Tik Tok and other platforms don’t have to listen

Every platform realizes sooner or later that it has two sets of customers:  the end user and the parties that make the platform worthwhile.  For Amazon, that’s sellers and buyers.  For uber, that’s drivers and passengers.  For Tik Tok, that’s viewers and creators.

Tik Tok will likely listen to some demands…especially with competition from Meta

Tik Tok would be wise to be responsive to some complaints.  Especially because of competition from Reels.  Just like ebay made Amazon better to sellers, and Lyft made Uber better for drivers, watch competition with Reels turn into a competition for creators.

Influencers have Options

Influencers need not form a federally protected workers union to affect change.  Many companies are lobbied by groups of interested parties – from soda bottlers and car franchise owners who form groups to negotiate with their corporate partners to freelancers guilds.  Tik Tok would likely value having feedback concentrated in one place, making it easier to action and promote their message.

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Alykhan Sunderji

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