[Hpn] Nonprofit employees look to unions

I C A N ! A m e r i c a icanamerica@email.msn.com
Wed, 14 Feb 2001 05:06:28 -0500

Last year, the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington, DC became a
unionized work force.  The below talks of others in states like North Carolina
where community organizing had much of its greatest efforts and success in the

How do you feel about employees of local and small NPOs having the opportunity
to have adequate representation for grievances and labor contracts?

Would (could) it mean better and more suitable services and assistance to for
those called homeless and hopeless?

What should we do as homeless folks to support or oppose this effort?

Is there a Provider in you area that has a unionized staff?

H. C. (Sonny) Covington
I CAN! America
"To be truly radical, one must make hope possible,
rather than despair convincing."

Business: Nonprofit employees look to unions

By KARIN SCHILL RIVES, News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C.

(February 13, 2001 12:50 p.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - Long hours and
low pay - that's life in the nonprofit sector, in which many toil for a
calling rather than salary. One wouldn't expect nonprofit employees to meet
with union representatives to discuss grievances and labor contracts.

But some nonprofit employees whose careers focus on improving the lot of
others are pondering an organizing effort to deal with what they say are
abuses in their own working lives.

"We're not martyrs," said Libby Manly, program director at Student Action with
Farm Workers, an organization working with migrant and seasonal farm workers.
"I don't think we should expect anyone to work 60 to 70 hours a week and not
be properly compensated."

She was one of about 20 nonprofit employees who met with a representative from
the International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of
America in Chapel Hill, N.C., last week.

It was the union's first such public meeting in the area, and more will
follow, said Aletha Baptist.

Besides the promise of a 40-hour work week, Manly hopes a contract would
contain language on overtime pay, pension benefits and organizational
structure that could be used as a model for many kinds of nonprofits. Though
happy with her benefits, Manly said she's concerned about the level of burnout
she sees at work.

As manufacturing jobs disappear, organized labor is shifting its focus to the
service sector, where nonprofit workers make up a sizable portion of the
employment base. Nonprofits employ about 8 percent of the nation's workers,
and 80 percent of them work for hospitals and other health and human-services
organizations, according to the National Council of Nonprofit Associations.

Other groups that qualify for nonprofit, tax-exempt status under the Internal
Revenue Code include charitable and educational groups, chambers of commerce,
real-estate boards and similar organizations - many of which have only a few
paid employees.

Unionizing nonprofits is complicated because many groups belong to larger
organizations such as the United Way. That means the National Labor Relations
Board might not qualify them as bargaining units, Baptist said.

But things got easier after the NLRB ruled in 1998 that Head Start employees
may join a union, said David Morgan, the IUE-CWA's co-director of organizing.
A push to organize Head Start workers is under way in Mississippi. The IUE-CWA
hopes to see a similar campaign in the Carolinas, though Morgan acknowledged
union activities face an uphill battle in both places. The two states rank at
the bottom of the nation in union membership.

Still, unionized nonprofits are not unheard of, even in North Carolina.

A year ago, employees at the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health
Project, a workers advocacy group in Durham, signed a contract with the
IUE-CWA to represent them. By belonging to a union, employees there are
seeking better training opportunities and pay.

Copyright  2001 Nando Media
Copyright  2001 Scripps Howard News Service


**In accordance with U. S. Copyright Law, Title 17 -  Section 107,  this
material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

H. C. Covington  icanamerica@msn.com

"To be truly radical, one must make hope possible,
rather than despair convincing."