Board of Directors Statement on the Proposed Union
The Board of Directors at Safe Passage takes very seriously our responsibility to support the mission of the organization as well as the health and well-being of our employees. We have immense gratitude and respect for the entire Safe Passage staff, who continually demonstrate their commitment to advancing the important work of Safe Passage. We are particularly grateful for, and proud of, the various ways in which the staff has pulled together to provide ongoing support for survivors during a time when we are all struggling with the realities of a global pandemic.
In response to public misrepresentations of our position on employee unionization, the Board believes it is important for you — our beloved and supportive community — to understand that when considering voluntary recognition of the proposed union, the Board engaged in a deliberative process. This included two listening sessions where employees were invited to speak directly to Board members and share their concerns and suggestions, and an open invitation from Board leadership for continued dialogue with staff members via email or on the phone — which tendered many brave and informative conversations. During this deliberative period, the Board saw and heard hopes for the future, as well as advocacy from staff across the organization, both in favor of and opposed to the formation of a union, and received input from the local community. This was all done in an effort to ensure the voices of all those concerned were heard before the Board reached a final decision.
Thus, the decision to encourage a secret ballot election by not voluntarily recognizing the union does not, and should not, suggest that the Board is in any way opposed to the proposed union. Rather, our decision to not make the decision for employees is rooted in a commitment to uphold equity and justice in the workplace for all of our employees. During our deliberations, the Board was contacted by a number of employees, including some within the proposed bargaining unit, who asked that the Board not voluntarily recognize the union, and articulated a strong desire to have their voices heard through a secret-ballot election. Therefore, inasmuch as the Board recognizes and upholds the right of its employees to form and join a union, the Board also recognizes and upholds the rights of its employees to be active participants in the process, to have an equal voice in decisions directly affecting their employment, and to decline to form and join a union.
In short, the decision to unionize is not for us as the Board to make. It is for our employees, and we trust their judgment. That is why the Board will remain neutral on the question. The unionization decision will impact everyone at Safe Passage, and a confidential vote will ensure that each person in the proposed bargaining unit has the ability to express their preference free from pressure of any kind.
The Board has appropriately employed competent legal counsel to represent the organization before the National Labor Relations Board and to advise us on the process. To do otherwise would not only be to abandon our fiduciary responsibility to Safe Passage, but also to burden management with navigating an unfamiliar process, forcing them to turn their focus away from their mission-critical work of implementing and overseeing programs that support survivors of domestic violence.
Leadership across the organization has been, and will continue to be, open and responsive to the staff during this process. We believe the decision to move towards a vote is in alignment with the organization’s values of equity and inclusion, and will allow for continued conversations across the organization in support of the safety of survivors in our community and the well-being of all our staff.