12 June 2024

Family Values @ Work Executive Director Fails to Voluntarily Recognize Employee Union

Family Values @ Work (FV@W) lead worker staff move to file union with the National Labor Relations Board after management declines to recognize them.

(MILWAUKEE, WI)––Professional workers at Family Values @ Work (FV@W) have filed for union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Professionals at FV@W, who act as lead workers, unanimously signed cards with Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 39, signaling their intention to form a union. FV@W Executive Director Josephine Kalipeni denied the lead workers’ request for voluntary recognition of their union, pushing them to file for an election with the National Labor Relations Board.

Family Values @ Work is a national network of coalitions in 27 states organizing for gender, racial, and economic justice by building the movement for policies such as paid family and medical leave, paid sick and safe days, and high-quality, affordable child care.

The lead workers requested voluntary recognition on May 24, 2024, with a customary deadline for the Executive Director’s response of May 31, 2024. Although FV@W agreed to voluntarily recognize organizing and administration staff earlier this month, attorneys for FV@W responded that they would not honor the Union’s request and deferred decision. Delays and stalling actions are common tactics to defeat a union, so the workers decided to file for election on Jun 4, 2024.

The team leaders believe that the union election process is an unnecessarily unwieldy and cumbersome step, but we will prevail, given the unanimous actions by the lead workers to sign with the union. It’s outrageous that the leadership of an economic justice organization with support for organized labor as one of its eight core values is throwing up unnecessary roadblocks to our unionization effort.

In its list of core values, FV@W states that “unions, worker organizations, and collective bargaining are essential for our democracy, our communities, and our workers who need direct ways to exercise their power and rights in the workplace.” At a moment when our economic justice movement needs to be as strong as possible to defend working families and our democracy, now is not the time to be fighting against workers’ collective action.

The lead workers petitioning for a union with OPEIU are the core of FV@W, serving in roles that guide critical work in all aspects of FV@W’s programming and operations, and represent a significant body of expertise for the paid leave movement. Over the course of the past two years, however, these key staff have become concerned about the financial and strategic management of the organization, under the leadership of the Executive Director.

In order to protect the vital, ongoing work of FV@W and our role in the movement for policies and a society that value care, we are forming a union. We call on FV@W Executive Director Josephine Kalipeni and the FV@W Board to honor our expressed values by recognizing our efforts to organize with OPEIU Local 39.

FV@W Lead Workers United is working to make the organization stronger and more effective by advancing equity and solidarity for all staff. The OPEIU organizing effort among lead workers is in solidarity with other staff who have recently voted unanimously to sign on with Communications Workers of America, and were rightfully granted voluntary recognition.

Follow FV@W Lead Workers on Twitter/X and Instagram to stay up-to-date on organizing efforts.


FV@W Lead Workers United Organizing Committee
 FV@W Lead Workers United

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