“The social justice movement cannot replicate the systems of oppression that we are struggling against.”
- Lynn Lewis, past Muste Institute board member and
former director of Muste grantee Picture the Homeless,
in a letter of solidarity sent to the Muste Staff Union
Thanks to all of you who signed our petition and wrote letters protesting the retaliatory firing of Jane Guskin, and asking the Muste Institute to bargain in good faith with our independent staff union.
We really appreciate your solidarity! We're trying to step up the pressure, so please keep sharing our petition with friends and colleagues through email and social media:
Tell the Muste Institute:
Bargain in good faith! We had a bargaining session with Muste management in late September. Management did not immediately dismiss our contract proposals, and agreed to a follow-up meeting in October. We were cautiously optimistic … until they canceled that meeting on a flimsy pretext. The meeting has now been rescheduled, but we won't be surprised if they cancel on us again. Stop delaying, and take the negotiations seriously!
Stop holding salaries hostage! Muste management has frozen staff salaries at their 2015 levels, refusing to pay our regular annual cost-of-living salary increases while contract negotiations continue. At the September meeting, they told us flat out that if we want those raises, we will have to accept their “best and final offer.” Playing games with our livelihood is unfair!
Do the right thing! We believe the only reason management is meeting with us at all is because if they refuse to bargain, it will weaken their position in our unfair labor practice case. Our charges are winding their way through the rigorous National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) investigation process, and we've got help from a great legal team at the Cornell University Labor Law Clinic. All we want is justice. Yet instead of holding out an olive branch, Muste management is focused on fighting the charges. Why?
No more excuses! Muste management still refuses to discuss Jane's termination with the union or anyone else. They cite “confidentiality,” but whose confidentiality are they trying to protect? Certainly not Jane's. She wants transparency, and has offered to sign a confidentiality waiver. Management also claims they can't discuss it because of the NLRB case. But a legal case doesn't block the parties from sitting down to talk. In fact, the NLRB can require management to meet with us to discuss a possible resolution. Why wait? We've had the door open from the start.
Honor A.J.'s legacy! From the moment we formed our independent staff union, our goal was to sit down amicably with the Muste board of directors to work out mutually agreeable and fair processes and policies. Instead, management decided to take an adversarial route, bringing in an attorney who specializes in “union avoidance” to head up their team. Have they forgotten about the labor leader and nonviolent activist who inspired their mission? It's not too late to do what A.J. Muste would have done: treat us with respect, and meet with us as colleagues.
Help us hold the Muste Institute accountable to its social justice mission and values.
For more information, see our website at https://ajmustestaffunion.blogspot.com/. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact us at musteunion [at] gmail.com.