With Trump’s election, many organizations without internal fundraisers frequently turn to canvassing organizations such as Grassroots Campaigns Incorporated, which sends politically savvy workers all over the city of Seattle to alert people to important causes and issues that affect their lives, such as the American Civil Liberties Union or Planned Parenthood. These canvassers often face hostile opposition, sexual harassment, and intimidation while striving to make the world a better place.
However, these workers – crucial to the success of various nonprofits, who have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various causes – frequently find themselves fighting for fair workplace treatment. And like many others, they’ve engaged in a time-honored way to get it – forming a union. Canvassers and field managers with the Boston-based company’s Seattle office have joined together, choosing to form under the Industrial Workers of the World, one of the oldest unions in the United States with a long history in the Pacific Northwest.
“We hope to see that Grassroots Campaigns, given its stated progressive bent, will accept this union without putting up a fight.” said one union organizer. “Given that the overwhelming majority of workers in the Seattle Canvassing office have signed union cards, it would be a violation of its stated principles to do otherwise.”
“Let’s call it an early Valentine’s Day present,” one union member said about their filing for recognition with the National Labor Relations Board, which occurred on Feb 12. “We know that the organizations we fundraise for value our labor and appreciate the results we bring. Morale is up now that we are organizing, and better treatment brings better results.”
“The perception is that this kind of work is just done by college kids who don’t need full-time employment – but canvassing happens year-round, and we need a living wage and job stability,” said another IWW member of the Canvassers Union. “The idea that someone could lose their job because of a rainy week where not many people were outside is not acceptable.”
Founded in 2003, Grassroots Campaigns Incorporated specializes in face-to-face campaigns for political parties, candidates and advocacy groups. Their employees help build bases and mobilize supporters for organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Democratic National Committee, the Nature Conservancy and Oxfam International.
Employees of Grassroots and members of the union are available for comment: please contact the Seattle Branch of the IWW at email@example.com to arrange for interviews.