The Impact of a Staff Union at the Center for Community Change

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By Jasmine Nazarett

My colleagues and I at the Center for Community Change (CCC) voted unanimously to ratify our first union contract in July 2017. We originally joined together in union with the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU) in the fall of 2016 to have a say in our workplace, live our values, and strengthen CCC through our collective voice. The provisions in our first contract, developed through negotiations with management, helped us to do just that. The following are some examples of the positive impact our union has had on CCC in the past year.

A more supportive work environment and improved morale

We feel supported at work because we know our colleagues have our back if we need to address an issue with a supervisor or negotiate a raise. We know that there is a system in place to refer to and feel comfortable using it to make CCC a better place. This support has given us more confidence, opened up communication with management, and boosted morale. With our seat at the table, we are more excited than ever to talk with our managers about ways we can continue to improve CCC.

A clear process for resolving disagreements and more collaboration with management

Our contract puts in writing a clear process for dealing with disagreements with management. Our grievance procedure is a multi-step process negotiated with our employer that lays out how to handle these workplace disputes. It ensures fair and equal treatment of employees as they work with management to develop a resolution to an issue.

We also established a labor-management committee as part of our contract. Our labor-management committee includes representatives from management and our union and meets to discuss issues of common concern. With the committee, we have a platform to bring up issues that management can respond to and vice versa.

Annual raises

We secured annual raises of 2.5 percent of the median salary of those covered by our contract. With many of us living in Washington, D.C., annual raises are a big help as the cost of things like rent, food, and transportation continue to rise. The annual raise does not eliminate our option to request a merit increase.

Layoff procedures and defined severance packages

Our contract makes it clear that employees cannot be disciplined or terminated without a just and fair reason—or “just cause.” Employees are also given an opportunity to improve if they are not meeting job expectations. Additionally, our contract puts in place a process to handle layoffs, if they must occur. Laid off employees receive at least 30 days’ notice and severance pay so they have adequate time to find another job.

Allowing employees to do outside work, if they choose

A number of my colleagues choose to hold additional jobs and do work outside of their employment at CCC. Our contract protects my colleagues’ ability to perform outside work that does not conflict with CCC’s mission.

If you are interested in achieving any of the workplace improvements we’ve made at CCC—or any others—contact us about forming a union!