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Audubon’s Labor Violations Undermine Global Conservation Partnerships

NEW YORK – The National Audubon Society’s refusal to bargain in good faith with its union employees has violated the conservation organization’s partnership commitments with BirdLife International and damaged Audubon’s efforts to elevate its international presence throughout the Americas, according to a complaint filed with BirdLife International this week. The complaint was made by the Bird Union-CWA Local 1180, a staff union representing more than 250 National Audubon Society employees.

BirdLife International is a global partnership of non-governmental organizations that coordinates efforts to conserve birds and their habitats across the globe. BirdLife International partnerships play a central role in Audubon’s efforts to elevate its international presence throughout the Americas, as identified in its new strategic plan.

“At a time when Audubon seeks to claim the mantle of global leadership in conservation across the Americas, their record of violating workers’ rights and U.S. labor laws undermines the values, reputation, and partnership commitments of BirdLife International,” said Gloria Middleton, President of CWA Local 1180. “Across borders, we all agree that we must protect the people who protect the birds, and that starts at home by settling a fair union contract that respects the dignity of Audubon’s dedicated workers.”

Audubon’s partnership commitments to BirdLife International include commitments to provide a fair salary and good conditions of employment for all employees and to not breach any law, including those relating to labor rights.

The National Labor Relations Board has determined that, in contract negotiations with the Bird Union that have dragged on for more than two years, Audubon has violated federal labor law in four instances, including by refusing to bargain over minimum salaries and denying union members benefits that were given to non-represented staff. Union staff at Audubon are currently eligible for only two weeks of paid parental leave to care for a newborn, while non-union staff have received enhanced parental leave benefits since the start of contract negotiations.

Management’s slow walking of negotiations perpetuates a system of alarmingly inequitable compensation: White men in one job category receive 16 percent higher pay on average than BIPOC women, a recent analysis found, and some union members rely on food assistance or second jobs to make ends meet, while executive pay has increased 60 percent since 2019.


About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents working people in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, health care, public service and education, manufacturing, tech, and other fields. @cwaunion

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