Morgan Lewis Response
06 May 2021
The organizing committee of the Audubon for All union read the new Morgan Lewis report with great interest—though we are not surprised by the findings, and we believe they are incomplete in addressing our toxic work culture. These results were previously reported in April 2020 in the Affinity Group survey, which described pay inequities, distrust with HR procedures and a work culture hostile to people of color, women, and LGBTQIA+ individuals. This is why we have been building our union—to establish a structure that gives staff a voice in the workplace and legal protection from the “culture of retaliation” when voicing concerns.
Below are our reactions and responses to the Morgan Lewis findings. We look forward to working with management and the board to create these changes.
Recommendation 1: Changes in leadership and structure
A union will fundamentally change the workplace structure by redistributing some power from the very top of the executive team to workers across the entire network. We no longer need to rely on one or a few leaders to set the tone and build the culture. This is the most straightforward way to “alleviate concerns that any new leader will simply continue the same practices Mr. Yarnold implemented at Audubon.”
Recommendation 2: Strengthen the HR department and complaint procedures, and increase HR’s transparency and visibility
Instead of providing more resources, capacity, and power to a department largely distrusted by staff, a union creates a formal grievance procedure with real accountability that protects workers. As long as staff are afraid of being ignored or retaliated against for raising concerns, our culture will not change at the speed and scale required by the findings in the report.
Recommendation 3: Hire an external third-party or internal staff advocate
There is no better staff advocate than us -- which is what a union with dedicated shop stewards is. As the Audubon for All union, we can all elect our coworkers who will “serve as a conduit between employees, and HR, and management.” Overall, recognizing our union will “further demonstrate Audubon’s support of employees.”
Recommendation 4: Maintain robust trainings and policies
The current “anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and ED&I trainings” have not created a safe workplace for Audubon’s diverse employees. We believe part of the issue has been the lack of staff input into the design and structure of the trainings. With a union, we can make trainings mandatory and tailored to fit workers’ needs. However, personal behavior change through training takes time, and we need accountability for discriminatory behavior now. The union could give employees new tools to safely report and get assistance with inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
Recommendation 5: Utilize pay equity data to ensure fair pay across genders, ensure a fair promotion process, and be transparent
Audubon is currently conducting a pay analysis—one instigated by worker organizing--but we have not seen the data the results will be based on. With a union, we would be entitled to salary data, and other information necessary to make equitable pay bands. Separately, without legal representation via a union contract, workers are still subject to the whims and favors of Audubon's executives. During contract negotiations, elected union members sit at the table with management to develop fair pay and promotion procedures, and staff vote on the final contract. Rather than asking us to trust them to do the right thing, Audubon’s leadership should invite workers to the decision-making table.
Recommendation 6: Reinvigorate the ED&I discussions and action plans
Many staff do not need to be “re-engaged” in ED&I efforts at Audubon—we have continued to discuss these important topics on our own through Affinity Groups, independent committees, and the formation of the Audubon for All union. We are ready to collaborate creatively on ED&I at the bargaining table.
Recommendation 7: Incorporate local leaders in decision-making
Rather than management deciding who is going to be empowered as a “local leader,” our union will elect leaders from our ranks to represent us in decision-making.
We urge leadership to see its workers (and our union) as a solution to the problems described in the Morgan Lewis report. We call on leadership to voluntarily recognize our union and agree to card check.