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Glide Leadership Opposes Recognizing Employee Union

Updated: Nov 03, 2022 11:00
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Earlier this month, Glide Foundation employees took the first step in unionizing by joining together to send a voluntary recognition letter to their CEO and President, Karen Hanraha. They drafted the letter to Hanraha and Glide leadership by working directly with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 29. However, despite their collective efforts, the hopeful union has hit a major roadblock. Leadership did not recognize their union.

We’ve all been through it the past couple years and, in my opinion, some of those who had it the worst were those who were essential workers helping others less fortunate than them. At Glide Foundation, employees continued to selflessly advocate for others, assisting those who were unemployed, feeding the homeless and working hard to expand their reach during the pandemic and its aftermath.

There was a ripple effect to this extra work they took on. An increasing number of employees felt as though they were not fully supported by Glide leadership. Specifically, their requests for improved staff retention, better pay and other similarly valid requests. Unionizing would help the employees get the services, wages and benefits they deserve as well as would help them be heard more clearly and to have a better way to negotiate with their employer.

Glide Memorial – located on Ellis in The Tenderloin

If recognized by leadership, the new union would go into what’s called “collective bargaining”. As stated on,  “After a union is certified or recognized, you will be required to bargain with the union about all mandatory subjects, e.g., wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.”

Sadly, we have news from a representative of the Glide United Union that they have not been recognized and have not been been able to move forward with leadership. They said, “In an official statement, Glide leadership has proclaimed that Glide should remain “union free,” despite significant public support, including from Supervisor Dean Preston, State Senator Scott Wiener, and State Assembly member Matt Haney.”

Supervisor Dean Preston did send Hanraha a letter urging Glide leadership to work with the employees. He states the importance of the union itself but also explains that the want to unionize is not just about how employees can benefit but how they can continue to help the community they serve.

Inside Glide Memorial church – photo from their website

He said in his letter to Hanraha, “As a San Francisco Supervisor, I recognize the benefits and protections that unions offer to aid not only the hard-working people in our city, but the entire working environment as well. I want to acknowledge the immense contributions nonprofit workers provide to the people of San Francisco.

This is of particular interest to me, as GLIDE is not only located in District 5 but also provides many services to the residents of District 5 and across San Francisco. Employees at GLIDE are doing crucial work in the community to address society’s most critical issues, including poverty, housing insecurity and homelessness, hunger, and racial and social injustice. It is my understanding that workers are organizing not just for improved working conditions, but to have a voice in how to better serve the community.”

Some change has happened, but it may not be enough. There was a wage increase recently but, even with the increase, they are still below what is needed to live in San Francisco. According to a Chronicle article on the issue, “the current $14 billion city budget approved over the summer by the Board of Supervisors and Mayor London Breed included millions of dollars to help pay for higher wages at nonprofits that contract with the city. City departments are in the process of rolling out those funding increases, even as nonprofit leaders and their employees push for bigger changes.

Folks waiting in line for a past Christmas Eve meal – photo from The Chronicle

Part of Glide’s mission is to create more justice in our community. Working with their employees feels as if it would align directly with the nonprofit’s mission statement. “We welcome everyone. We value our differences. We respect everyone.” When I think of Glide, I see them living out their values in many ways. It feels that recognizing the employees wish to create a collective voice via a recognized union would be something that would align perfectly with their company values. I’m not sure why there is push back but my hope is that there can be some negotiations between both parties.

Citing one of Glide’s company values, Radical Inclusion, the voluntary recognition request letter sent to to Hanraha by the union reps stated, “It is essential that those most impacted by policies are directly involved in their design and should have a meaningful say in the decision-making that impacts their well-being. GLIDE’s commitment to radical inclusion is aligned with GLIDE employees’ desire to make their voices heard through a union.”

For now, Glide employee needs linger as this roadblock is thrown in their way. They are determined to keep moving forward. They will hold union elections on November 10th. I will be contacting union organizers and Glide for more information on this topic and we will relay more information as we have it.

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Katy Atchison

Katy Atchison

Katy is a professional smiling machine raised in The Bay Area since the age of 3. While other kids were attending summer camp & soccer practice, she was raised selling wares at craft shows with her working artist parents and spent vacations in a small 1920s Montana log cabin. This has all given her a unique perspective on the ever-changing texture of San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Currently a blend of all that is The Bay Area - she's a web designer at a tech-company, artist and DIY teacher.

1 Comment

  1. October 28, 2022 at 1:05 pm — Reply

    Altruism and Equity are the most Christ-like things there are.

    I’ve always loved the work of Glide and appreciated the lives they’ve saved, but if they’re gonna run the church like a business, then they need to set an example: let them unionise.

    “…you have nothing to lose but your chains.” ✊🏿

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