After workers tried to form a union, trans rights group ditches most of its staff

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/17/hostile-work-environment.html

7 Likes

I mean what the fuckity fuck???

26 Likes

And this is why intersectionality is important.

24 Likes

Unfortunately, the charity and non-profit sector seems to be rife with bad industrial relations, as people’s commitment to the cause is cynically translated into a willingness to put up with horrible, narcissistic management and terrible compensation.

35 Likes

Honestly, non-profits are almost uniformly a sinkhole of horrific labor abuse that could be the envy of any Randroid brotech “disruption” firm.

:shockedokaynotshocked:

20 Likes

This is common in the nonprofit world: Acorn and SEIU both busted their own staff unions.

You are doing god’s own work, so you should sacrifice yourself to the alter of exploited labor. Some animals are more equal than others. Et fucking cetera.

34 Likes

And having a union would have provided a structure to resolve labor disputes without leading to a Saturday Night Massacre.

And moderated if there actually was one employee who was off the rails in their concerns as it would need to be addressed under the contract and with the union rep.

Poor choices made here.

Edit:
When you grow from a one person shop to a 23 person shop, your organization has to change and your employees expectations for benefits change. You’ve grown from the start up phase for this type of org - your staff has different expectations.

16 Likes

This really saddens me. I hope the cast-aways round up the whole gang and launch a replacement organization.

5 Likes

I’m old enough to remember when some orgs had a big effort to partner with unions to have the unions support trans people.

“Mara Keisling, the Executive Director of NCTE said, “there are a lot of people who aren’t getting the care they need simply because they’re trans. Doctors often still don’t know how to treat their trans patients. And its moments with SEIU stepping up like this that push the social and cultural needle towards understanding of trans people in health care and inclusion of trans people in society.”

“ NCTE commends SEIU for their commitment to equality and for advocating for basic care that will provide enormous support to trans people.”

14 Likes

What’s weird is that, from reports I’ve read, people in volunteer positions in non-profits routinely get treated worse than anyone else, too. Researchers suggested that, on top of the “you should do it for the karma, not the money” attitude, there’s the standard capitalist brainwashing of the totally contradictory attitude that the value of a worker is directly proportional to how much they’re paid. Which means all the workers get screwed coming and going - denied higher wages and then mistreated for not being paid more.

16 Likes

@Lexicat @Shuck This is true. As a charity volunteer, I’ve never had an experience that wasn’t either very good, or very bad. Fortunately, you’ll feel the bad vibes fairly early on and can ghost the organization without feeling like you’ve lost a whole lot which you invested in it.

Unfortunately in my case, I discovered that members of the venerated group I was working with were stealing donations and diverting them to their personal outside projects. After a period where they tried to cultishly seduce me with hugs and “love”, they implemented an absurd and specifically-tailored “code of conduct”, which they applied retroactively, and so booted me off the island. And sued me in court for my silence, and to seize all of the media I produced for them (all other artists kept rights to their donated promotional works).

In defiance of the settlement, I kept the evidence. It keeps their attitude in check, although I am aware that they still run a low-key smear campaign against me.

11 Likes

Episode #5,107 in “all of your liberal establishment institutions are shit”.

Remember this from last year?

Or this?

Or the HRC’s endorsement of this candidate?

Any organisation that becomes part of the establishment power structure will be corrupted by the establishment power structure.

13 Likes

I’ve worked in the NGO sector my whole professional life, over 30 years now, for a variety of organizations and causes. This is an old old story.

First thing is, there is a very strong Peter Principle in effect. The kind of fervent, passionate, dedicated people that create new organizations tend to also be, by those very traits, pretty terrible at managing them.

Eventually, if the organization survives, the board will eventually hire competent(ish) management, but the same effect often happens; the kind of qualities and experience that look good to a dedicated committed and often highly political board, may not work well in a supervisory and financial management role. That tends to be where you see unionization happening.

Much as I am a strong supporter of unions, especially public sector ones, a union in a NGO context is somewhat out of place-- most of us who work in the business are well aware that hours will be long and pay poor; the rewards are non-monetary (but they can be great). Which is not to say things should be exploitative: staff that are paid enough to maintain a decent if modest living and support a family are likely to perform a hell of a lot better than people scrambling to make rent every month.

But when the rewards are not there, well then the hours and pay and politics get to be too much, and the unionization drive starts. Employees organizing is essentially a reactive phenomena-- it indicates that there is something deeply deeply wrong in the organization’s management and culture. Those are very difficult problems to fix; most of the time they aren’t fixed, and organizations die.

NGOs flame out all the time. Those that survive long enough, can get huge and fat and lazy, and get captured by complacent management-- thats where you start seeing obscene executive salaries, major board perks and log-rolling, and time-serving staff. It is utterly amazing how long some charities can coast on, living on the reputation of the past.

4 Likes

In creative industries it is commonly heard in the form “you’re doing fun work, you should be paying us”.

It’s truly staggering how deeply we are all programmed for serfdom. The more we’re exploited, the more we support exploitation; the more common ground we find with other workers, the more we revile unions.

6 Likes

I don’t (and could never) know for certain, but (especially large?) company/organization managers may tend to be of a… certain personality type. And I’ll just leave that there.

2 Likes

You had me until this. Try again?

3 Likes

There’s certainly been a push to unionize nonprofits over the last several years - particularly lgbt nonprofits. We’ve seen that in my town with the he lgbt health center becoming unionized.

But in this field in DC - lgbt orgs have been unionized for longer - counterparts of this orgs - one of which shared space in the same building- The National LGBT Task Force & The Human Rights Campaign. SEIU represents them.

The affiliation of nonprofits and unions isn’t all that difficult.

5 Likes

I know first hand that it can be really difficult to bootstrap an organization that is starting up without the need for employees that are willing to work for very little pay. But it is something management needs to realize and be thankful for that there are people there that believe in the cause, and those people putting in the time should not be taken advantage of in any way. In this case, it is likely that workplace issues existed, and the people there that did believe in the cause just wanted to be able to put their efforts in and not get treated like crap as a result. Forming a union may have provided the leverage they needed to make the necessary changes to achieve this. The fact they were mostly all let go speaks volumes about how management viewed them.

5 Likes

It is a fundamentally different thing to negotiate with a management that is making a profit from your efforts vs one that loses money just by existing. It’s difficult to wag your finger in the face of someone who is donating their money and time claiming you deserve a bigger piece of a negative number, when they could just as easily donate to a different cause.

2 Likes

Does this attitude surprise anyone in today’s I got mine screw you culture?

1 Like