(SAN FRANCISCO) — After battling an anti-worker campaign, direct service staff at San Francisco-based non-profit ScholarMatch today overwhelmingly voted to form a union with Teamsters Local 856 by nearly 90%.
ScholarMatch employees began the process of unionizing last year after becoming concerned with instability and ensuring equity at the non-profit. Since last summer, multiple board members and senior leaders have stepped down, including its founder, famed San Francisco author Dave Eggers.
The organization, whose mission is to support first-generation college students earn a bachelor’s degree within five years, initially agreed to voluntarily recognize its employees’ choice to unionize. However, management quickly reneged on its promise and forced its employees to hold an election through the National Labor Relations Board. The organization additionally hired a known anti-worker and anti-union law firm as its representation.
“I am moved and have great pride in all of my colleagues who were brave enough to create this collective and all the organizing, actions, and risks made to ensure we truly live out our mission, values, and promises we make to our community and each other,” said Organizing Committee Member Kate Bueler, a five-year employee of ScholarMatch.
Local 856’s newest members work in various administrative and direct services functions, including with high school and college students primarily in San Francisco and Los Angeles communities to ensure the mission of the non-profit.
“Forming a union binds us together in our commitment to share power and keep one another accountable in our work in the community,” said Samantha Lozano a program manager at ScholarMatch. “This is about building an equitable and inclusive world for our students where everyone has a seat at the table,” she said.
ScholarMatch employees join Local 856’s 17,000 members throughout Northern California, including an expanding non-profit sector. The new members are just the latest group to organize with the local, with over 400 workers voting to become Teamsters 856 members in the last year alone.
“We enthusiastically welcome our newest non-profit sector members to our union and are eager to get to the table to negotiate a strong Teamster contract that reflects the important work they perform to improve the lives of first-generation students and our communities,” said Peter Finn, Teamsters 856 Principal Officer/Secretary-Treasurer.
“We commend their courage and tenacity in standing up to their employer and are proud to stand with them as Teamsters,” Finn said.