A successful card check in April has led employees at the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) to receive voluntary recognition for the union they have chosen, Local 153. The bargaining unit is comprised of attorneys, clinicians, paralegals, community outreach specialists, and other employees who had spent six months building strength among co-workers before requesting voluntary recognition from AVP management. The successful card check means that the group has won union representation and the right to bargain collectively, joining thousands of nonprofit employees across the country represented by OPEIU’s Nonprofit Employees United (NEU).
AVP is a nonprofit organization that provides education, advocacy and counseling to queer, transgender and HIV-affected communities and allies. Employees at AVP began organizing their union last summer, following several years of discussions about ways to improve their working conditions and, more recently, threats of layoffs at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; Unionizing enables them to increase transparency, improve compensation and put in place support structures and professional development opportunities that will allow staff to better serve their communities.
“We are thrilled to win our union!” said Elliot McCullough, a clinician and a member of the union’s organizing committee. We are not just employees of the LGBT Anti-Violence Project —many of us are part of the same community we work with and are survivors of violence ourselves,” he added. “We cannot say we are committed to ending all forms of violence without starting in our personal spheres.”
The newest members of Local 153 are celebrating their overwhelming victory and the protections and bargaining rights they’ve gained by unionizing. Isaac Dwyer, a paralegal and another organizing committee member, said, “NYC AVP is a mission-driven organization, and we work here because we believe in the necessity, the gravity, and the urgency of what we do. We also believe that we do our best work when we meet and hold space for our own needs. Unionizing with OPEIU Local 153 will help us advocate for and fulfill those needs so that we can do at our best the work we are here to do.”
As the workers prepare to negotiate their first contract, they are looking forward to building a more sustainable, equitable workplace — one that better reflects the values of AVP.
“LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities especially need strong labor protections, and we’re excited to move to the bargaining table!” McCullough added.
OPEIU Local 153 is excited to welcome employees from the New York City Anti-Violence Project to its membership that spans the tri-state area. The newest union members at AVP strengthen the growing network of nonprofit workers joining OPEIU in Nonprofit Employees United (NEU). The union also represents employees at the City Bar Justice Center, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, BioBus, Casa Latina, and the ACLU of Maryland.