About

Progressive Workers Union (PWU) is part of a bolder, more diverse labor movement fighting for economic, environmental, and racial justice.

Our union started at Sierra Club in 1992 as the John Muir Local 100, and was refounded as the Progressive Workers Union in 2017. Currently, PWU represents over 550 nonprofit workers across some of the largest and most influential organizations in the country, and our members and leaders work every day fighting for justice in their organizations and their communities.

PWU Goals

PWU is committed to raising the standards and working conditions across its units and across the broader environmental and social justice movements. We seek democratic models of decision-making by involving members in bottom-up decisions, maintaining open and transparent communication channels, and establishing decentralized structures. We strive to help develop the skills and abilities of our membership by providing ways to be more engaged in the workplace and providing constant support to our members to uphold our contracts and improve them through negotiations.

Members of the union are committed to learning and evolving in order to operate as a strong and effective team both within each represented bargaining unit and across the collective union. Members affirm to stand with anti-racism initiatives and other progressive movements that strive toward equity and justice, while harnessing the collective power of the membership for the benefit of all employees.

Units

Greenpeace USA Workers Union

Represents about 65 employees in Greenpeace USA’s Bargaining Unit. Greenpeace USA employees joined PWU in 2020, and are still negotiating their first contract.

Sierra Club National Union

Represents over 250 employees working in Sierra Club’s National Bargaining Unit. Their first contract was ratified in 1993.

Sierra Club Chapter Union

Represents over 150 employees in Sierra Club’s Chapter Bargaining Unit. Their first contract was ratified in 2019. 

Union of Concerned Scientists United

Represents about 120 employees in Union of Concerned Scientists United’s Bargaining Unit. Union of Concerned Scientists employees joined PWU in 2020, and are still negotiating their first contract.

Appalachian Voices Union

Represents over 15 employees in Appalachian Voice’s Bargaining Unit. Appalachian Voices employees joined PWU in 2020, and are still negotiating their first contract.

350 US Union

350 US Union represents 15 employees in 350.org’s Bargaining Unit. 350 employees joined PWU in 2019 and signed their first contract in 2023.

Our History

We share a common origin. In 1992, after sudden decisions by Sierra Club leadership to increase the hours in the work week, non-management Sierra Club staff beyond Oakland, CA unionized in what would become Progressive Workers Union (PWU). Our origin story is similar to many other unions: Workers’ rights were pushed to the margins by the bosses, forcing workers to band together and make demands with their collective power.

We’re part of the new labor movement. Our members are part of the revival of the labor movement, demanding more of our communities, our organizations, and our sector, as we act against racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, transgender prejudice, and all inequality in our workplaces, and in society as a whole. We do this as we build community among our members, demand more of ourselves, and reach together toward justice.

 

PWU now represents workers across a broad set of roles, including organizers, communications professionals, digital innovators, policy experts, legal assistants, grantwriters, fundraisers, campaign representatives, and lobbyists all across the country. 

Unions

Many unions serve their members. By negotiating and ultimately ratifying a collective bargaining agreement with employers — a contract that the union and employer agree to — many unions provide tangible and significant financial benefit for its members. Unions provide resources and support for members to better understand their roles and rights. When issues arise, the union works to address them. With a union, workers are able to more fully thrive in their workplaces, and sustain both themselves and their families. 

Some unions organize. They ensure that all of the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement are available to their members, and also actively involve workers in decisions made by employers. Members are invited to use resources to build a better union and to use their collective voices to benefit workers at PWU and beyond the union.