Media Contact: 

Dylan Plummer, [email protected], 541.531.1858

Washington D.C. — Over 100 organizations, elected officials and labor unions submitted open letters (read the labor letter here and the elected official and partner letter here) to Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous and the Board of Directors voicing their support for the staff union’s demands for a progressive contract at the bargaining table. Signatories include United Auto Workers, the Oregon AFL-CIO, U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, and elected officials across seven states.

“A just transition off of fossil fuels is only possible if it’s led by workers,” said Mike Miller, Director of United Auto Workers Region 6. “Sierra Club staff are invaluable partners in this work, and we stand in solidarity with their demands for one of the most progressive contracts in the nation. It is only the wealthy that stand to profit from withholding benefits from working people.”

The letter calls for a strong contract with the Progressive Workers Union (PWU) that includes measures to create a safe and dignified workplace, pay equity, pathways to promotion, family-sustaining wages, and job protection while addressing burnout. The letter comes after months of internal tumult, with dozens of layoffs, high turnover of senior management and a confusing, opaque “restructuring” process. Workers are hoping that a strong contract would help boost morale, rebuild trust between staff and management and put Sierra Club on track to more effectively tackle the urgent work of fighting the climate crisis.

“Sierra Club has the opportunity to set a new standard for workers and organizations across the nation, following the successful strikes by the United Auto Workers and Writers Guild of America,” said U.S Representative Rashida Tlaib. “We are calling on Sierra Club to work with the Progressive Workers Union to create a contract that not only benefits the workers but also serves as a model for better working conditions across all sectors.”

So far, bargaining has consisted of months of unproductive talks with management attempting to weaken key provisions, particularly those related to progressive discipline, job security, and severance benefits.  Sierra Club denied PWU’s request for a three-month extension into 2024, allowing the union’s contract to expire at the start of the new year and setting the stage for further escalations including walk outs and strikes. 

In 2018, PWU Sierra Club National Unit set industry standards for non-profit workers, ensuring robust benefits and competitive pay for advocacy jobs nationwide by negotiating a historic contract. Now, Sierra Club management is attempting to weaken key provisions, particularly those related to progressive discipline, job security, and severance benefits.  

“Progressive organizations cannot proclaim solidarity with organized labor in one breath, while undermining their own workers with the next,” said CJ Garcia-Linz, President of Progressive Workers Union. “After a bruising year for workers at the Sierra Club, our union is committed to holding the organization accountable to its values and doing whatever it takes to win the contract that our members deserve.”

PWU has made concrete proposals that foster a safe and dignified workplace, ensure pay equity, pathways to promotion, family-sustaining wages, job protection, and address burnout. The letter highlights the organization’s vital role in environmental protection, climate change action, and building a more sustainable and equitable future. As negotiations approach a critical juncture, PWU remains committed to securing a fair and progressive contract that aligns with their values and the broader goals of environmental and social justice movements.

Learn more about the current status of bargaining at PWU’s public webinar this Thursday, February 8 at 4pm PST. The event will be streamed live on our youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@progressiveworkersunion

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