In Union, There is Strength: How Our Union Benefits Our Nonprofit’s Mission

Source: Juli Adhikari, Thomas Waldrop and Malkie Wall, Nonprofit Quarterly, September 22, 2020

…As nonprofit workers at a policy thinktank, we realize we are relatively shielded from some of the worst conditions that others face. And yet young workers like us, and especially those of us who are workers of color, face considerable market vulnerability. Without a union, many in our sector face long hours for low wages under the burden of sky-high rents and student loans. …

…So, what to take from our experience? If you are a staff member at a nonprofit, we encourage you to consider the benefits of organizing. In the past month alone, nonprofit workers have formed new unions at the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center, Feminist Majority Foundation, Scholars Strategy Network, New American Leaders, Innovation Law Lab, and The Hub Project. And just months ago, workers also unionized at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

And if you’re a nonprofit manager or board member, we encourage you to work with unions and workers as partners, not see unions as something to “avoid.” We are well aware that there is an entire union-busting industry out there. Certainly, it is possible for a nonprofit board to spend thousands or even tens of thousands of donor dollars on lawyers who will tell you to not voluntarily recognize the union and instead insist on a prolonged election process, and advise you on how to postpone the election date, reduce the number of people in the union, and even how to intimidate workers to vote against the union when an election is held. A nonprofit board and management can do this—but not without doing grievous harm against their social justice missions….