Larkin Street Youth Services employees unionize

After a contested organizing effort that raised questions about the tactics and resources being used by management at Larkin Street Youth Services, a nonprofit social service provider funded with government grants, the National Labor Relations Board today tallied the votes, which union sources say was 67-17 in favor of organizing.

That means the LSYS’s 92 employees will be represented by Service Employees International Union Local 1021. LSYS management was not immediately available for comment, but we’ll update this post when we hear back. SEIU Organizing Director Timothy Gonzales sent the following email to union members:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

I am proud to announce another victory for workers: SEIU Local 1021 today welcomes 92 new members from Larkin Street Youth Services, a nonprofit that provides a variety of services to homeless youth in San Francisco, who won their Union today by an 80% margin in an NLRB election! 

This was the third organizing attempt at LSYS, though staff turnover there is so high due to low pay and poor working conditions that few employees from the last effort in 2010 are still there. Our organizers did an excellent job at building and training a strong, empowered organizing committee that was able to reach out to their coworkers and build the majority support needed to win their Union. Despite considerable community and political pressure from our allies, the employer put up a fight and did not hesitate to attack SEIU, but these workers understood their conditions would not change until they had a Union and stayed united.

I would like to personally thank everyone who helped out on this campaign. Thanks especially to the Larkin Street team: coordinator Mila Thomas; lead organizer Peter Masiak; organizer Jonathan Nunez-Babb; lost-time member organizer Lacey Johnson from Progress Foundation; researcher Caitlin Prendiville; and communicator Jennifer Smith-Camejo. As always, we were helped out by the ROC and member activists under the leadership of Ramsés Téon Nichols, and by the political support of Alysabeth Alexander and Chris Daly. My sincere apologies to anyone whose name might have been left out here—your assistance was appreciated nonetheless!

This campaign is a testament to how strong workers can be, even in the face of intense employer opposition, when given the proper tools, training and motivation. I am sure you will join me in welcoming our 92 newest members to SEIU Local 1021!

In unity,

Timothy Gonzales