Union Busting At Non Profit

Union Busting.  It’s the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from big business, but what if it’s happening in one of the largest progressive non profit groups in the country?

The Fund for Public Interest (the parent organization for the state PIRG’s) claims to be an environmental and consumer watchdog organization. The Fund runs a fundraising canvass for groups such as Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and Human Rights Campaign. But the rights of their own workers are being held in total disregard.

 Canvassers work long hours; some put in a 12 hour day with little pay. Many (all staff in the L.A. Greenpeace office were promised health coverage) are being denied the benefits packages they are promised in their hiring contracts. In the Fund run Greenpeace office reimbursements for work related expenses, such as office supplies, often go unpaid. New employees nation wide are being paid approximately half of what original staff is (or was) making for performing the same job.

On Wednesday, January  23rd employees and directors of the L.A. Greenpeace Project office  arrived to find the locks changed, the office cleaned out, and a sign on the door proclaiming the office closed. Office director Dan Binaei was fired without warning the evening prior, and assistant director Brande Jackson was terminated over her voice mail on the morning of the 23rd. All Greenpeace Project employees were informed that they would be receiving a two-week severance pay, or have the option to do a different job, with different hours, in a different city, with different pay, for a different organization. The Los Angeles Greenpeace Fundraising office was among the highest grossing, and most efficient PIRG offices in the country. Both Binaei and Jackson had received high-ranking reviews and praise by both superiors and staff. There can only be one reason assumed for the overnight disappearance of the Los Angeles Greenpeace office.a union was being formed.

 As conscientious directors, Dan Binaei and Brande Jackson spent months using established channels to obtain reimbursements, health coverage, and equal pay for their staff. All attempts ended in bureaucratic runaround. After much deliberation, the L.A. Greenpeace directing team filed a complaint with the labor board. The Regional and National Canvass Director’s were informed by email that a complaint had been filed and a union was being organized. One week later the office was closed. On the 23rd 13 employees of the LA Greenpeace Project entered the still operating Fund for Public Interest/CALPIRG office on Wilshire Blvd. demanding to know why their exemplary office had disappeared, and why their directors had been terminated. Regional Director Ben Flamm stated that he could not release that information because of a confidentiality policy. Dan Binaei and Brande Jackson were both present, and adamantly waived their rights to confidentiality. When pressed Mr. Flamm’s only explanation was, “Because you have no trust in the Fund, you can no longer be trusted.”

This behavior is frightening. By completely eliminating the office, the Fund appears to be attempting to smash all organizing attempts and attitudes of dissent. Not only is union busting illegal, it is morally reprehensible coming from an organization that claims to be working for human rights. There should be no division between environmental, labor, and human rights movements. If we are to be effective in our fight against injustice, non-profits must not adopt the oppressive tactics of the very corporations we are struggling against. Please voice your solidarity with the workers of the Los Angeles Greenpeace/CALPIRG Fundraising project. Call the PIRG administration offices at 617-292-4805 and complain

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