Color of Change, an online racial justice organization with more than 7 million members across the United States, has agreed to recognize a union for its workers, adding to the wave of successful non-profit union drives that is sweeping across the country.
On Tuesday, roughly 52 workers at the civil rights non-profit joined the Washington-Baltimore News Guild, citing the importance of unions and organized labor in the fight for racial justice.
“We believe a union at Color Of Change is not only necessary to sustain our commitment to racial justice organizing, but is actually a tangible piece of our vision of justice that we can make a reality right now,” organizers of the Color of Change union wrote in a statement.
“[A union at Color of Change] will help create a sustainable working environment that encourages growth and Black Joy and prevents burnout from the taxing daily work of combating anti-Blackness,” it continued. “It will allow Color Of Change to align better with the movements we claim to stand with.”
Color of Change formed 15 years ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Black community in New Orleans. At the time, few online tools existed that could organize mass movements against social injustice. Since then, the non-profit has led instrumental online and social media campaigns to combat systemic racism in public health, Hollywood, the prison industry, and the tech industry, drawing public attention to, for example, misinformation on Twitter, Google, and Facebook.
This summer, Color of Change played a crucial role in organizing demonstrations against police violence across the country, and a boycott against Facebook that resulted in dozens of big name brands pulling billions of dollars of advertising from the social media giant. In recent months, the organization put together a comprehensive guide for Black people who contract COVID-19. Today, Color of Change employs more than 100 workers in its offices in cities including Oakland, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and New York City, and has a majority Black staff.
“At Color Of Change, we know our impact on the world is biggest when our team is strong, so we are proud to voluntarily recognize the Washington-Baltimore News Guild as the union for Color Of Change staff and are looking forward to upcoming negotiations,” said Rashad Robinson, President of Color Of Change, the largest online racial justice organization in the country. “As an organization with a long standing commitment to worker-led organizations, we support the labor movement’s empowering impact on Black and brown communities, including our staff.”
While workers say they’re offered generous benefits and wages, two years ago they began to have concerns about job security and arbitrary firings, and began organizing a union drive. By unionizing, they want to lock in a just cause agreement for firings, create more transparent decision-making and performance review processes, and build clearer paths for promotion.
“I wanted to unionize because I realized this is a really great company, but I think a union can make sure we preserve that and ensure decisions aren’t made unilaterally,” a Color of Change employee in the Washington DC office, told Motherboard. “I see a union as being able to spread benefits across teams. The Black community has benefitted from unionization and worker collectives in the past. By unionizing, we’re showing that this is necessary for Black people and Black workers.”