Washington D.C. – The Progressive Workers Union (PWU) National Unit and the Sierra Club reached an agreement addressing the union’s strike platform and collective bargaining agreement (CBA) just one hour before a planned strike at 8 a.m. on July 2nd, following an 18-hour marathon bargaining session. 

Major sections of the parties’ agreement include: 

  • Reinstatement of 12 laid off union members, including some union leaders with guarantees these individuals will not be targeted for layoffs through 2025. Sierra Club also agreed to layoff amnesty for National Unit Members through April of 2025 if it’s meeting net fundraising goals and committed to meeting monthly with the union to provide updates. 
  • Maintaining workers’ rights to a raise when they are assigned or take on new work. 
  • Additional severance benefits to individuals impacted by 2024 layoffs. 
  • Strengthening of a voluntary layoff program.
  • Improved comp time criteria for workers.

In exchange, PWU gave up its negotiated one-time 7% cost-of-living salary increase for National Unit members, conceded on many sections of the contract, and agreed to drop its eight Unfair Labor Practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board. The agreement concludes Impact Bargaining over Sierra Club’s 2024 layoffs and creates a pathway for finalizing PWU’s National Unit contract over the next week. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of our members. Our vote to strike showed that Sierra Club’s unions are committed to protecting one another in the face of financial trouble at the organization. Management finally listened when members made themselves heard,” said PWU President Walter Keady. “No deal is perfect, but we are excited that this agreement meets our strike platform and avoids unnecessary harm to the Sierra Club community that could have occurred during a strike.” 

“We’ve finally made a huge step forward and sincerely hope that this marks a shift in Sierra Club’s approach to labor relations towards one of respect and collaboration so we can achieve Sierra Club’s critical mission,” said Z Gerdes, former PWU President and bargaining team member. “As we’ve named before, PWU wishes to engage in productive conversations with the organization that improve the outcomes of our workers, our campaigns, our communities, and the climate. We believe this compromise is a big win despite the heavy concessions that our union made.”

PWU and Sierra Club agreed to discuss a number of remaining contract issues in bargaining sessions on July 3rd, 8th and 9th. Unresolved contract items will revert back to the 2018-2022 CBA after July 9th, pending union ratification. 

While contract negotiations are set to wrap up for PWU’s National Unit, the Chapter Unit’s contract is set to expire at the end of 2024 with negotiations expected to begin soon. 

“One of PWU’s goals is to merge the National and Chapter Units, and we hope that Sierra Club will see the benefit of bargaining one contract instead of two,” said Emma Brown, PWU Chapter Unit Representative and bargaining team member. “By doing this we could free up resources to focus on our campaigns while making union contracts easier to understand and implement.”