Code for America CEO says nonprofit will ‘continue to act in good faith’ during union recognition talks

Code for America Summit 2019 in Oakland, California. Credit: Code for America

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Code for America CEO Amanda Renteria has said the digital services nonprofit will “continue to act in good faith” in union recognition talks and reiterated that the organization will make a decision on voluntary recognition in October.

In an internal memo obtained by FedScoop, Renteria said that the organization is facing a significant learning curve over the unionization process and that it has received the recommendation to be as thoughtful as possible about the process “without delaying or rushing.”

“As an organization, we appreciate the important role that unions have played in this country,” the executive said. “In that spirit, the leadership of Code for America remains committed to good stewardship by ensuring we can continue to live our values and make the greatest impact we can in creating a people-centered government.”

The intervention comes as part of a process to recognize a union at the organization, which began last month. It also comes as employees inside the federal government and the wider technology sector received a boost from the prioritization of rights to collective action under the Biden administration.

In the memo, Renteria said also that Code for America has appointed two law firms to assist with the union recognition process — Bredhoff Kaiser, which is working with the Office and Professional Employees International Union on unit definition, and Jackson Lewis, which is working to support management on broader HR and legal matters.

The appointment of Jackson Lewis attracted criticism on social media late Tuesday, with critics citing the firm’s track record for union-busting, including work carried out for management at technology giant Amazon.

A spokesperson for Code for America reiterated also that management is focused on resolving questions about equity and inclusion as they move forward with the union unit definition process.

Last month, FedScoop reported that the nonprofit’s management had requested additional time from staff for the union recognition process, citing a desire to educate management about the process and to engage with staff.

In August, Code for America staff revealed their intention to organize through the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 1010. So far, 62 people at the organization have signed union authorization cards, which is understood to represent about 77% of its workforce.

Under U.S. labor law, formal recognition of a union can be either granted voluntarily by an employer or through a secret-ballot election organized by the National Labor Relations Board.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Code for America Workers United said: “CfA Workers United continues to take Code for America’s leadership at their word that they are committed to working towards voluntary recognition in good faith.

“We are continuing to work with them towards swift voluntary recognition. In the meantime, we are grateful for the strong support and encouragement our unionization effort has received from the organized labor movement and folks in government agencies and civic tech,” the spokesperson added.

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Amanda Renteria, Code for America, NRLB, OPEIU
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