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Sunrise Movement and CWA Announce “Visionary” Union Contract for Climate Workers

“Strong unions and worker contracts are a core pillar of the Green New Deal,” the two groups said.

Hundreds of young climate activists rally in Lafayette Square on the north side of the White House on June 28, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

The youth-led Sunrise Movement and the Communications Workers of America union announced Wednesday that they have reached a “visionary, one-of-its-kind collective bargaining agreement” for professional climate campaigners.

“As workers across the country are realizing their power and forming unions, Sunrise Movement management and staff are proud to have reached an innovative and rigorous bargaining agreement with the CWA,” the two groups said in a joint statement.

“We are thankful for all of the workers and bargaining members whose vision and drive in these last nine months have made this a reality,” they continued. “Strong unions are a core pillar of the Green New Deal. Our commitment to the labor movement and the dignity of all workers is crucial in our fight. We all benefit from a strong, pro-worker contract.”

Sunrise and CWA added: “We are especially proud that this contract is one of the most progressive agreements reached by CWA. In particular, our revolutionary nondiscrimination article, voluntary recognition and neutrality details, and our time-off and leave provisions are some of the first of their kind.”

Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash said that “I am so damn proud of this visionary collective bargaining agreement that gives our staff dignified and healthy working conditions.”

“Our people deserve to get paid well, get enough vacation and rest, and have support if they choose to have a family or unexpectedly get sick,” Prakash continued. “I have nothing but respect for our workers and the good team at CWA and the partnership we’ve built over the last year.”

“Onward to combat the existential crisis of our time, while standing up for workers and good jobs everywhere,” she added.

Wednesday’s announcement follows a 2020 vote by 95% of Sunrise staff members to form a union with CWA Local 1180 in New York. Sunrise and CWA have worked together on numerous climate and labor-related campaigns, including Good Jobs for All, an “economic vision for a post-pandemic society that puts millions of people to work stopping the climate crisis.”

The 2020 vote took place following the departure of Sunrise regional organizer Akshai Singh, who claimed they were fired for union organizing — an allegation Sunrise refuted.

In addition to representing workers at wide range of companies in the media, communications, airline, and other industries, CWA counts workers at activist groups including Amnesty International among its approximately 700,000 members in 1,200 chartered local unions.

“It is a breath of fresh air to negotiate a contract for our members with a management team that understands the value of its employees and knows that an unbalanced work-life schedule will lead to their demise,” CWA Local 1180 president Gloria Middleton said in a statement.

“When management and unions can find a way of working together for the best interests of all parties involved, then everyone comes out a winner,” she added. “This Sunrise Movement contract now will hopefully set an example for other nonprofits down the road.”

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