Worker Justice is Environmental Justice! Community organizers demand respect and fairness in their work, not layoffs and permanent replacements! Grassroots community organizations should be models of grassroots workplace democracy. Democracy in the workplace means workers should be free to ask questions about process and budget of their workplace without fearing the threat of delayed pay, arbitrary discipline or layoffs.
long standing employees at LVEJO. Selene worked for the company since August 2009 and Mike worked there since April 2006. During their terms of employment, these highly committed organizers worked tirelessly for environmental justice in the Little Village community. They continued work even when budget cuts to the nonprofit sector required a 25% cut in hours, taking on 2nd and 3rd jobs to make ends meet while continuing to work with community members to promote the development of urban agriculture, open space and public transit.
On November 30, 2011, LVEJO laid off Selene and Mike. Board members of LVEJO claimed this was due to “budgetary concerns.” However, when money became available earlier this year, both organizers were permanently replaced without even being contacted.
Workers at LVEJO are fully cognizant of the real motivations behind management’s decision to terminate Selene and Mike. They had both been active in a concerted effort to improve workplace conditions regarding scheduling discrepancies, worker equality, democracy and transparency within the company.
Prior to being let go, workers at LVEJO had requested to meet with the LVEJO Board of Directors regarding a series of concerns about the Executive Director’s hours, democracy and transparency. Selene and Mike were a part of the voice that made suggestions for increased worker democracy and advocacy within the company.
Employees at LVEJO are regularly encouraged by management to “Speak Up!” regarding their suggestions and concerns. It is clear that management is comfortable when employees do this on an individual level. The attitude starts to change, however, when we come together and begin to act collectively, and speak with a unified voice. The LVEJO Board was split and was either unable or unwilling to agree to meet with quorum to address workers’ concerns.
The reason given to both Selene and Mike regarding their termination was “insuffiicent funds for your position” even though there had been plenty of conversations regarding the good financial standing of the organization.
We strongly believe that Selene and Mike’s termination had nothing to do with “insufficient funds” as both their positions were filled permanently without any intent by LVEJO to connect with Selene or Mike.
We believe that Selene’s and Mike’s termination are in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), Section 7, which states:
“Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection…”
We believe that management selectively singled Selene and Mike out as a result of their participation in these legally protected acts. To that end, we are in support of Selene and Mike’s decision to file an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), which has initiated a government investigation into the grounds for their termination. We have faith that the National Labor Relations Board, the agency which enforces the NLRA, will find in the organizers’ favor.
We call upon The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization to do the following:
1. Issue a public apology to all parties involved (past workers, current workers and the community) in the disruptive nature of their choices.
2. Collaborate with workers to establish a peer-review system regarding disciplinary actions and terminations. Workers are entitled to have a peer witness present during disciplinary meetings, and the ability to directly contest disciplinary actions made by management.
3. Host a community wide meeting to address original grievances given to the board: the Executive Director's hours as of the 30 hour pay cut, democracy and transparency in LVEJO
---------------- Sincerely, [Your name]