Why are we unionizing?

As we work to create a more equitable, sustainable, and representative democracy externally, we believe Democracy Works should be mirroring that work internally. We are unionizing in an effort to center equity, establish collective decision-making processes, and prioritize accountability and transparency at Democracy Works.

What are we organizing for?

We want our place of work to care as much for its employees as its employees care for democracy. Areas that have driven our unionizing efforts are:

  • Democracy in decision making: Including staff in decisions that impact our work
  • Collective support: Creating processes, practices, and policies that ensure ALL staff can thrive (including those who aren’t eligible to join the union, such as managers and HR staff)
  • Capacity, workload, and hiring: Ensuring all staff can do their jobs effectively in a standard work week and hire to get the work done
  • Retention, evaluation, accountability: Retaining staff by improving the workplace, fairly evaluating everyone, and holding leadership accountable to doing so.
  • Pay equity: Consistently and equitably setting salaries to reflect the work, skills, leadership, and innovation staff bring across all teams (especially for currently uncompensated work)
  • Professional development: Investing in and creating spaces to allow staff to grow within the organization and as professionals.

Why can’t we do this without a union?

Right now, management is able to make decisions on our working conditions and the direction of our organization with or without our input. Once we win certification as a union, they will be required to negotiate with us “in good faith” on these topics. We will also go from “at-will” employees who can be disciplined or fired for no reason at all, to workers with rights and protections, including the right to “just cause” firing.

Who is leading this?

We are. Democracy Works employees. We have reached out and spoken to all of our eligible colleagues, and we are confident we have widespread support. Please reach out at any time if you are interested in becoming more involved in the campaign efforts.

What happens after we go public with our union?

Now that we have informed Democracy Works of our intent to unionize, management can choose to voluntarily recognize us, at which point we would be officially certified as a union and would enter into contract negotiations. If management chooses not to recognize our union, we will begin an election campaign.

At the end of the campaign, all eligible employees will be invited to submit a ballot to the National Labor Relations Board. We need the support of 50%+1 of eligible employees to win certification. With the supermajority support we have already seen from our co-workers (and the number of authorization cards we submitted), we are confident democracy will work, and we will achieve certification!

Who is in the union?

All permanent, non-management and non-confidential (e.g. HR or Finance) employees at Democracy Works are included in our bargaining unit, which is approximately 40 Democracy Workers strong. National labor laws cover all employees based in the US, regardless of residency status. Our unit includes employees with a broad range of job responsibilities, from writing code, to communications and design, to fundraising, to research; from interfacing with local election officials, to contracting and supporting partner colleges, nonprofits, and corporations. Together, we represent all the great work Democracy Works does, and together, we are Democracy Workers Collective.

Why are certain employees not eligible to join the union?

The National Labor Relations Act stipulates which employees can and cannot join official unions. Ineligible employees include those who manage full-time employees, and those who have access to confidential employee information, such as salaries, performance plans, and hiring information. Employees who are not eligible are not protected from retaliation for union activity under federal law. As well as management and confidential (e.g. HR and Finance) employees, contractors and interns are also not eligible to join unions.

What is The NewsGuild-CWA?

Democracy Workers Collective is part of the local 31222 of The NewsGuild-CWA. The NewsGuild (TNG) is the largest union of communications and media employees in North America, with over 25,000 members across the United States and Canada. Communications Workers of America (CWA) is The NewsGuild’s parent organization, representing over 700,000 employees.

While The NewsGuild is primarily made up of employees at news organizations (such as the LA Times, the New York Times, and the Appeal), it also has member unions at dozens of nonprofits and social justice organizations across North America, including Southern Poverty Law Center, Center for Public Integrity, Lambda Legal, League of Conservation Voters, and RAICES.

The NewsGuild has played a critical role in a recent wave of unionizations in newsrooms and organizations across the US, and we believe that energy can help us win certification for our own union. In addition, TNG is highly focused on winning the best possible contracts for its members, which is something we all want from our union. Finally, TNG is member-run, meaning that members get access to a supportive, experienced network of workers in solidarity. You can read more about The NewsGuild-CWA on their website.

What are some ways to support the union?

Whether you are a Democracy Works partner, funder, user, or simply a concerned citizen, we can always use your support! Check out the Support page to learn more.