New York City: Young workers protest wage theft by nonprofits, May 23, 2017.
A group of militant workers have organized a picket line outside of the Environment New York campaign’s office in midtown Manhattan. Led by a canvassing worker who had recently been fired, members of Workers World Party have joined in solidarity, citing ongoing concerns with wage violations.
Heather Morris, who canvassed for Environment New York for one week with the organization, states that the campaign failed to pay her and other staff for training hours. Environment New York claims that this was outlined in their staff’s policy; however, New York City labor law states that workers must be paid for training.
Morris was terminated without reason last Thursday, May 18th, on a day where she was complaining to other workers about how they were not being compensated for training. After she brought up these concerns with the director of the campaign, she was offered a “settlement” pay of $89.42 for 8 and a half hours worked. This still falls short of New York City’s $11 per hour minimum wage.
In addition, the terms of the “settlement” had stated that she was not allowed to discuss the situation with anyone else further or file any claims. Morris had refused to accept the settlement, stating that she needs to keep fighting to ensure other workers are paid for their training as well.
Environment New York is one of the state affiliates of Environment America, a liberal non-profit environmental advocacy organization that raises its funds through canvassing. Canvassers are expected to stop people in the streets collecting donations and petition signatures. Environment America is run by the Fund for the Public Interest, the largest fundraiser for progressive causes in the United States.
In 2009, the Fund settled a $2.15 million class-action suit alleging it subjected workers to “grueling hours without overtime pay.” In addition, canvassing employees were found to have been paid below minimum wage. In 2005, The Fund had also been found to have denied rest breaks to a worker in California. In 2012, in Portland, Oregon, the Fund has also refused to reinstate a worker who was proven to have been fired as a result of his union activism.
Photos by @AshAgony on Twitter