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The staff of PEN America has unionized!

Katie Yee

June 10, 2022, 8:11am

Congratulations to PEN America‘s staff, who announced yesterday that they won voluntary recognition of their union!

This milestone has been a long time coming. After months of organizing, they wrote to management to formally demand recognition last December and will now continue into the negotiation process.

In their statement, they wrote:

We want to address the present conditions at PEN that have contributed to an untenable work environment and threatened our ability to sustainably continue PEN’s vital work: the low wages, scarce opportunities for growth and professional development, lack of transparency in organizational decisions, and ensuing rapid staff turnover, among others.

Unionizing our workplace has allowed us to formalize our collective vision by creating a space to build community and solidarity among workers. PAU (PEN America United) serves as a democratic mechanism to address workplace issues going forward, which ensures that our voices will now be represented in organizational decision-making.

They go on to encourage the workers at nonprofits and across the publishing industry to advocate for their rights through the power of collective action:

Lastly, to our peers working in these industries and beyond, we call on you to continue the conversation about your workplace’s conditions, engage your coworkers, and organize a union. Our ability to bring these vital missions to fruition depends on it.

 You can follow these trailblazing labor organizers and their journey on Twitter at @united_PEN.

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