Meet the Union Behind Your Favorite Mobilizing & Organizing Tools

And find out why you should organize your workplace too!

Amy Chin-Lai

Dec 11 — This article was written by Amy Chin-Lai and was originally posted on Medium

One-year ago, we announced that the staff at Action Squared (the folks behind Action Network and Action Builder) had formed a union with the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (IFPTE Local 70). As a member of the Organizing Committee and the Bargaining Committee for the Action Squared Union, I’m now proud to announce that we now have a ratified contract as well!

Our organization was founded in 2012 as a movement technology nonprofit by organizers with deep ties to the labor movement. We’ve continued to build on that legacy, working closely with the AFL-CIO (the largest federation of unions in the U.S.) as an anchor partner in our cooperative design model for both of our toolsets. We believe deeply in the power of unions, and we hope that the Action Squared Union can serve as a model for what happens when we walk the walk — as union members, organizers, and progressives — and embrace the power of unions in progressive and nonprofit organizations.

Now, one year later, I want to share with you some of the highlights of our new contract! (Want to learn more about the process of organizing our union? Read our post from a year ago!)

We were fortunate at Action Squared to have a solid employee handbook and benefits package prior to organizing. Through our bargaining process, we focused on codifying much of that handbook into a contract that also made some improvements that make Action Squared an even better place to work. Here are some of the highlights from our collective bargaining agreement:

Incentives for professional development

Under the agreement, employees are allowed to take three paid professional development days each year, and Action Squared will pay up to $2,000 per year toward the cost of courses that contribute to professional development.

Paid parental leave

Per the agreement, employees can take 16 weeks of paid parental leave, with an option to take an additional 4 weeks of unpaid leave — that’s 20 weeks total!

Strong anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies

These policies apply to all employees, interns, fellows, and anyone else employees come in contact with related to the workplace (including partners). The policies include clear, escalating steps with independent, third-party investigations to be done in a timely manner. For full transparency, all parties are informed of the results simultaneously.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Per the agreement, Action Squared will post open positions using gender-neutral language. In reviewing applications, the organization will remove identifying demographic information in an effort to produce a neutral candidate selection process.

Stipends! Stipends! Stipends!

Even before the pandemic, more than three-quarters of Action Squared staff were working remotely, using our own computers, wifi, desks, headphones, etc. to do our jobs. To support remote work, Action Squared reimburses $200 per month for technology and home office expenses. Our agreement also includes a Health & Wellness Stipend, good for $50 each month towards yoga memberships, running shoes, weights, or anything else that supports staff members’ physical and mental health and well-being.

Obviously there’s a lot more that went into this agreement. If you’re curious about the process or want to hear more about the Action Squared Union, feel free to email us at actionsquaredunion@gmail.comAnd follow us on Twitter — @ActSquaredUnion!

Here’s a statement from Brian Young, President and Executive Director of Action Squared, reflecting management’s perspective on the Action Squared Union:

“Everything we do with Action Network and Action Builder and in our organization is based on the idea that working cooperatively with people who share values and goals produces stronger results. So I’m excited to have our staff union in place to have a partner in growing as strong an organization as we can. We’ve worked together as a staff to create our handbook and our benefits, and as we grow, a union can help build strong systems and structures to keep Action Squared an organization that lives its values and does the best work for our movement.

And, as a former union member and activist myself, I’ll just say for people who are thinking about starting a union at their place of work but are a little nervous to try: the more nervous you are about the reaction of your organization, the more you probably need a union.”

If you are interested in learning more about organizing your workplace, here are some resources to learn about unions, tools for organizing, and running campaigns in your workplace:

AFL-CIO Organize Your Workplace

Attend an Action Builder demo

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