Staff at ACLU of Northern California File for Union Recognition with the National Labor Relations Board


Decision Follows Management’s Failure to Meet Voluntary Recognition Deadline
For Immediate Release: May 13, 2020 


SAN FRANCISCO – Today, staff at the ACLU of Northern California filed an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to unionize with Local 20 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE).


The decision to file for an election follows management’s refusal to voluntarily recognize the employees’ union. On Friday, May 1, staff gave the ACLU of Northern California’s Executive Director, Abdi Soltani, a week to voluntarily recognize their union. After the deadline passed, Soltani notified the union that management would not grant them recognition.


“Every organization is healthier when workers are empowered. A unionized staff will make the ACLU of Northern California a stronger, more equitable workplace,” said Linnea Nelson, Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Northern California. “We are disappointed that management missed an opportunity to support their staff, but by filing with the NLRB, we are holding them accountable to the ACLU’s values.”


“At a time when we are facing a health emergency and an economic crisis, I am beyond proud of my courageous colleagues who are standing up to do what is just. I share their commitment to fight for all workers and look forward to the day when our staff join the millions of workers across the country who belong to a union.” said Luis Ojeda, Regional Organizing & Program Manager at the ACLU of Northern California.


Since the COVID-19 epidemic began, staff at numerous nonprofits have unionized with IFPTE, such as the National Women’s Law Center, National Immigration Law Center, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, Friends of the Earth, J Street, Food and Water Watch, and Groundworks Collaborative. Nonprofits are among the fastest growing unionized workforces in the country.


“We are seeing a massive increase in interest in organizing amongst nonprofit professionals not just in Northern California but across the country.” said Jonathan Wright, Organizing Director of IFPTE Local 20. “Like all workers, nonprofit professionals need a seat at the table to protect themselves and have a voice in organizational decisions to protect their clients. We are proud to welcome the staff of ACLU NorCal into Local 20.”


The ACLU of Northern California has a long history of supporting workers and their right to unionize, going back to the founding of the organization to protect union organizers during the 1934 longshoremen strike in San Francisco. Today’s filing is a celebration of this history.


Link to public petition in support of ACLU NorCal United:


Link to ACLU NorCal United’s twitter page: