Even as we confront the challenges of a global pandemic and the practical limitations imposed by social distancing practices, the Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) has persevered in our mission to leverage the collective power of Black workers in the struggle for equity and justice in the labor system. Yesterday WCRJ celebrated a tremendous victory in this fight when our comrades at the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School filed for their union.
Securing a majority of mental health counselors' support and signatures was no small feat, especially under the statewide shelter-in-place orders. WCRJ began organizing workers at the Orthogenic School after many employees witnessed significant cuts in their hours and felt coerced into not filing for unemployment amidst COVID-19 shutdowns. In partnership with Raise the Floor Alliance and attorney Celeste Ntuen, WCRJ held a virtual know-your-rights training, highlighting the recent changes to unemployment benefits, which kickstarted the union organizing drive.
These caring, passionate, and skilled workers are the engine that keeps the Orthogenic School running, but all too often, they face unjust working conditions and constraints on their ability to provide adequate treatment to clients. Employees of the Orthogenic School are seeking the power to negotiate equitably, believing that collective bargaining ensures more fair labor conditions for all workers.
Now under the representation of AFSCME, Orthogenic School counselors ask that the Leslie Shankman School Corporation board and management respect their right to form a union free from intimidation, coercion, or management interference. WCRJ stands with these workers in urging Orthogenic School management not to waste resources by engaging high-cost anti-labor lawyers, using paid work time to hold anti-union meetings, or distributing propaganda that undermines workers' organizing efforts.
In the weeks to come, WCRJ will continue to work in solidarity with counselors at the Orthogenic School, offering guidance and organizing assistance as they pursue full unionization. To stay updated on WCRJ's workers rights campaigns, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Please contact us directly with questions or for more information about our organizing work.