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Code for Philly / Technology

Code for America has voluntarily recognized a workers union

The national civic tech nonprofit agreed to recognize the CfA Workers United Union for full-time employees. The date for an official card check is TBD.

Code for America's Brigade Congress convened in Philadelphia's City Hall Courtyard, October 2017. (Photo by Chris Kendig)
As of last week, national civic tech nonprofit Code for America (CfA) is officially in the union biz.

The org announced in a statement that effective Oct. 22, it has voluntarily recognized the CfA Workers United Union for full-time employees. While CfA hosts coding brigades and civic hackathons in cities and states across the U.S., the CfA union would only represent the full-time employees of the nonprofit, not the volunteer leaders of local brigades.

The announcement is one of the early successes in a growing interest of labor unions within the tech sector.

CfA CEO Amanda Renteria told that the organization now has the first employee union in the civic tech sector. (Another noteworthy sector mention: DC mapping software Mapbox’s recent failure at unionizing.)

“We’re paving the way for something that hasn’t been done before,” Renteria said. “True to who we are, we remain focused on creating a government that works for the people, by the people in the digital age.”

CfA Workers United informed CfA leadership of its ask for voluntary union recognition back in August, and both parties will be working together to negotiate a contract.

“Having workers included in the decision-making process around policies that affect them will allow us to better act out our values of listening first, including those who have been excluded, and acting with intention,” a spokesperson from Workers United said in a statement. “We have a shared commitment to improving worker well-being, promoting a workplace that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive and respecting healthy conflict.”

Local brigades, such as Code for Philly, will likely be unaffected by the change. Code for DC Director Greg Jordan-Detamore told that since the brigade leaders are all volunteer-based and don’t officially work for CfA, he expects them to remain unaffected by the union.

“This is only really relevant to CfA employees,” Jordan-Detamore said. “I mean, obviously there are the larger questions like ‘will this lead to more civic tech workplaces (or tech workplaces more generally) being unionized?’ But in terms of tangible impacts on our brigade, I can’t think of anything.”

Going forward, CfA will determine majority interest via a card check to voluntarily recognize the union, although a date has not yet been set.

“As we look to the future, there are many aspects of this journey that are yet to be determined,” Renteria said. “We will continue to support our entire workforce as well as the larger network of organizations and people who are committed to making government work better for everyone.”

Companies: Civic Tech DC / Code for America

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