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Organizing Wins for Wildlife Workers

The CWA, OPEIU, AFT, and UFCW have all notched big organizing wins in September

Brian Young's picture
Oct 05, 2021

Throughout the month of September, numerous workplaces organized and held votes on whether the staff would join a union. Below are some of the highlights from four workplaces that decided to vote in the union and gain a stronger voice on the job.

At the Audubon Society, one of the nation’s oldest environmental organizations, workers decided that they wanted a voice in the workplace and announced that they would be organizing with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). As UCOMM previously reported, instead of welcoming the union, the Audubon Society hired noted union-busters Littler-Mendelson to try and stop the organizing effort. After facing a union-busting campaign from their employers and the high-priced lawyers and goons at Littler-Mendelson the workers went ahead with the vote. After the ballots were counted on September 23rd, 90 people voted yes and 14 people voted no, with one ballot being voided. The union will now represent 131 full-time and regular part-time employees who work in the Development, Finance, IT, Marketing, Content, Network, Communications, Delivery, Conservation, and EDI departments.

When Environmentalists Union Bust

Another wildlife group, Defenders of Wildlife also held a union vote in September. This group of employees organized with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 2. “We are coming together to form a union to help solve some of Defenders of Wildlife’s most pressing challenges. Defenders United is committed to improving working conditions for employees, increasing staff involvement in key decisions, reducing staff turnover and brain drain, and fostering a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just workplace. We believe that by collaborating with management we can achieve that vision and ultimately create better Defenders for staff and the wildlife who depend on us,” stated the Defenders United Organizing Committee. “Our announcement comes at a time when environmental leaders and organizations across the nation are recognizing the importance of embedding equity and justice in our work. The staff at Defenders of Wildlife are deeply committed to Defenders’ mission to advance wildlife conservation and we recognize that in order for Defenders to be effective, the organization must first look inwards and implement diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice policies that empower workers to do their best.”

Although the company refused to voluntarily recognize the union, the workers overwhelmingly voted in the union on September 14th. The final vote total was 70 in favor of the union, 5 people voting against it, and 3 ballots being voided. The new unit includes professional employees who work as full-time and regular part-time staff attorneys, senior staff attorneys, legal fellows, and senior Endangered Species Act counsels. It also includes nonprofessional employees including full-time and regular part-time representatives, senior representatives, outreach representatives, government relations representatives, senior government relations representatives, government relations & external affairs coordinators, policy analysts, senior policy analysts, policy advisors, accountants, senior accountants, communication specialists, help desk associates, application developers, receptionists, program coordinators, finance and compliance coordinators, senior federal grant/award compliance managers, senior compliance managers, web marketing and social media associates, website administrators, database associates, database administrators, program associates, software support specialists, directors of member acquisition, international associates, national outreach managers, operations associates, foundation relations associates, federal lands associates, development research associates, development coordinators, graphic designers, senior foundation relations managers, philanthropy associates, philanthropy managers, directors of philanthropy, gift planning managers, senior field conservation managers, communications coordinators, data specialists, conservation law coordinators, landscape conservation coordinators, field conservation program assistants, enterprise infrastructure administrators, multimedia associates, digital fundraising associates, GIS analysts, digital campaigns producers, administrative assistants, staff scientists, senior aquatic biologists, marketing coordinators, editors, marketing project specialists, direct mail associates, donor engagement & events managers, communications content writers, campaign managers, mail clerks, accounts payable specialists, gift planning associates, and philanthropy writers.

In Salem, New Hampshire, workers at Bull Moose Music announced that they wanted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1445. The workers organized over workplace safety issues and harassment on the job, including racism, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia. In May, the 20 workers received a mass email from the company informing them that they had been terminated. The location then closed for several weeks, while the company attempted to hire new employees. When they were unable to, the company decided to bring the fired workers back and the employees decided to go ahead with the union vote. “The past year has demonstrated the value of having a unionized workplace, and we know that a strong union contract will help make Bull Moose a better place for workers, customers, and our community,” said UFCW Local 1445 President Fernando Lemus.

When the votes were counted on September 14th, 15 of the 21 eligible workers voted yes to the union. The remaining six decided not to vote. The new bargaining unit will include full and part-time store clerks, head clerks, and shift supervisors who work at the Salem, New Hampshire location. The Salem location is Bull Moose Music’s, a regional chain throughout New England, first organized location.

Across the country in Oregon, workers at Mid-Columbia Medical decided that they wanted to join the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). When the votes were counted on September 24th, 45 people voted yes and 4 people voted no. The new bargaining unit will contain 72 people including all full-time, part-time and casual technical employees who are employed at The Dalles, Oregon location. Job titles that are included in the bargaining unit are all diagnostic imaging technologists, respiratory therapists, EKG technologists, radiology technologists, CT technologists, MRI technologists, mammography technologists, nuclear medicine technologists, echo technologists, ultrasound technologists, sonographers, radiation therapists, surgical technologists, pharmacy technicians, clinical lab assistants, physical therapy assistants, physical therapy aides, bio-med technicians, sterile processing technologists, and PACS administrators, including leads.

Buffalo Nurses Strike

Congratulations to all of these workers who decided to take the bull moose by the horns and demand a voice on the job.

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