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A New Era of Representation & Shared Leadership

June 3, 2022

Forward Together/Forward Together Action and Forward Together Workers United (FTWU/CWA) Launch New Era of Representation & Shared Leadership

On December 8, 2021, Forward Together Workers United (FTWU/CWA) requested voluntary recognition from Forward Together and Forward Together Action’s executive team. As firm supporters of workers’ rights, economic justice and reproductive justice, Forward Together and Forward Together Action unequivocally recognized the new union. We are excited about what we can build together in this historic moment for the organization and the country as staff in nonprofit organizations across the country organize themselves to form unions. We look forward to strengthening this partnership between Forward Together, Forward Together Action and FTWU/CWA through the bargaining process and in the years to come.

As staff at a nonprofit organization, we know that the nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC) creates exploitative conditions — such as unpaid or underpaid work, toxic work culture that leads to burn out, tokenization, etc. — and we believe that unionizing our staff is a concrete step in challenging harmful systems like the NPIC. As just one piece of the larger NPIC structure, Forward Together, Forward Together Action and FTWU/CWA remain critical of the larger systemic impacts because we believe that our collective power can ultimately change the structures that reinforce harmful working conditions.

In its mission statement, FTWU/CWA acknowledges and appreciates the leadership of Forward Together and Forward Together Action’s in their recent work to meet many of the staff’s needs through new policies and a shift to a more inclusive culture. FTWU/CWA’s members work at Forward Together and Forward Together Action because of a shared belief in the work, mission and values, and trust in leadership. The staff is valued and cared for and the policies that have been introduced — 4-day work weeks, increased paid time off and a comprehensive health insurance package — demonstrate this. The members of FTWU/CWA want to ensure that these policies are kept for present and future staff.

“Forward Together has been in firm solidarity with unions and workers in the Fight for $15 since 2015…,” said Diana Lugo-Martinez, co-executive director of Forward Together and Forward Together Action. “It’s exciting to now have seen our team live up to these values by forming & recognizing FTWU/CWA — and I look forward to a new era of collective representation and shared leadership.”

Like other nonprofits, Forward Together and Forward Together Action has a hierarchical leadership structure. With FTWU/CWA, there is an opportunity to reimagine this structure and shift to an organizational culture that empowers staff to organize and address needs in the workplace. Sharing power through a collective bargaining agreement will enable us to do this.

“We believe that when we share power in a collective bargaining agreement, everyone will benefit, no matter who is in leadership. We are doing this for each other and for everyone who works at Forward Together and Forward Together Action after us,” FTWU/CWA said in a collective statement.

“We hope other organizations reading this statement will take inspiration from us and organize their workplaces, as we have taken inspiration from our comrades at Ella Baker Center, URGE, NAPAWF and other organizations. We stand in solidarity with you and we are here as a resource for you as you organize. We’re inspired by the many workplaces that have organized throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and hope that other fellow nonprofit workers feel empowered to disrupt whatever harmful and exploitative practices that exist in your workplace as well.”

Forward Together and Forward Together Action builds relationships across lines of race, gender, and sexuality to connect marginalized people and catalyze social change. Our work influences culture and policy to ensure that every person, family and community has the power and resources they need to reach their full potential. The members of FTWU/CWA are very much reflective of our communities and must be able to exercise their right to unionize to ensure that those rights, resources and recognition are enshrined in the essence of Forward Together and Forward Together Action for years to come.

To learn more about Forward Together and Forward Together Action’s work visit www.forwardtogether.org and www.forwardtogetheraction.org. Visit www.cwa9415.org to get to know more about FTWU’s union representation, CWA Local 9415. If you and your colleagues are interested in organizing your workplace, visit www.reprojobs.org/resources and www.workerorganizing.org.