How Nonprofit Workers Benefit from Unionizing

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Nonprofit organizations provide essential services to vulnerable populations across the country, such as homeless people, families in crisis, and people with disabilities. These public servants are passionate and genuinely care about their work. However, unmanageable caseloads, challenging working conditions, and a growing workload and low wages can diminish morale, lead to burnout, and contribute to high staff turnover rates. Indeed, low wages and high caseloads are two of the top five reasons people quit nonprofit jobs.

However, unionized nonprofit workers have the opportunity to improve their working conditions through the collective bargaining process. Unionized workers can negotiate and fight for pay raises, vacation time, and other improvements. For example:

  • In 2019, SEIU Local 668 members bargained a four-year contract with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that included a 16.75 % pay increase over four years. Over the summer, union leaders also negotiated paid paternal family leave for public sector workers, such as social workers and case managers. 
  • Members of SEIU Local 1984 were dealing with staffing shortages at the state hospital in New Hampshire. They bargained for a temporary wage increase for mental health workers at the state hospital.  When social service workers are part of a union, they see the difference they can make in their workplace.
  • Staff at the Economic Policy Institute organized and voted to be part of the Nonprofit Employees Union. In an opinion piece written for the Hill, EPI staff said “Having a union also allows for greater problem-solving capacity and creates a collaborative culture. EPI’s staff is passionate about our workplace and interested in continually improving it.” 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonprofit organizations make up 15.6 % of Pennsylvania’s private sector workforce. As the nonprofit sector continues to grow across the country, workers continue to join unions and bargain for benefits and a seat at the table. These workers realize that collective bargaining gives nonprofit workers a voice and help them continue serving the community with vital services. 

For decades, unions have been at the forefront of advocacy for workers and the communities they serve. If you work for a non-profit organization in Pennsylvania and would like more information about forming a union at your workplace, please fill out this form. An SEIU Local 668 organizer will be in touch with you.


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