In a bold move, one showing solidarity in the labor movement, six union presidents wrote a letter to Change.org’s founder and CEO Ben Rattray that encourages him to clearly articulate his company’s position on workers’ rights and collective bargaining.
While we are encouraged by the fact that you have decided to end your relationship with both StudentsFirst and Stand for Children, we are very concerned that you have not yet defined a clear policy regarding prospective clients who have a history of attacking workers and supporting the dismantling of public services. An unequivocal public statement from you articulating Change.org’s position on collective bargaining, and on workers’ rights more generally, would go a long way toward clarifying what your brand represents.
The letter, dated July 10th, comes in the wake of Change.org’s decision to cease its work with Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst organization once the contract ends. Last month Stand for Children ran a petition on the progressive for-proft company’s site asking for Chicago teachers and the Board of Education to come to the bargaining table. All the while, Stand for Children has worked to undermine the teachers union. Progressive community pressure that started from a Chicago teacher forced Change.org to do the right thing.
Labor leaders point to Change.org’s own mission statement:
We accept sponsored campaigns from organizations fighting for the public good and the common values we hold dear – fairness, equality, and justice. We do not accept sponsored campaigns from organizations that consistently violate these values, support discriminatory policies, or seek private corporate benefit that undermines the common good.
They highlight the contradiction of it when the company works with organizations promoting anti-union policies:
Organizations that weaken workers’ rights and facilitate the privatization of public services undermine the common good for private corporate benefit. Experience has shown that when these services upon which the public depends are opened to corporate interests, considerations of equal access, fairness and quality become much less important than profitability.
During the initial dustup I wrote “Change.org says they do not take any official position and only asks that the organizations are ethical in their practices and policies.”
Promoting oneself as progressive and growing because of progressive support should mean holding progressive values – believing workers should have a voice at the table with their employers is an essential progressive value.
Signing the petition include: Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, Randi Weingarten of American Federation of Teachers, Lee Saunders of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Larry Cohen of Communication Workers of America, Leo Gerard of United Steelworkers, and Edwin Hill of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
The letter (posted in full below) leads one to believe the labor unions could initiate a boycott of Change.org if the company does not take a stand in favor of workers’ rights. The company, founded in 2006 by Ben Rattray, has taken strong stands in favor of gay rights, immigrants and women’s rights. Why should the rights of workers be excluded?
Change.org’s spokesperson Benjamin Joffe-Walt replied to the Huffington Post:
“As we’ve noted, Change.org is undertaking a company-wide process to evaluate and clarify our client policy. As part of this process, we are reaching out to thousands stakeholders across the Change.org community through surveys and in-person meetings, including with the organizations represented in this letter. We are eager to engage with the millions of people who interact with Change.org every day, and we we will continue to actively seek input from this diverse community as part of this process.”
Did they do the same thing on other progressive issues?
The pressure on Change.org continues for now.
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