Staffers at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities are looking to join the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union, a burgeoning group with almost a dozen nonprofits under its umbrella.
CBPP management and the union are finalizing talks on card check recognition at the nonpartisan research institute in hopes of achieving voluntary recognition, Alan Barber, the president of the NPEU, told Bloomberg Law.
The unit would be the 12th group to join the NPEU if the campaign is successful and the third to join in two years. This progress at the CBPP is indicative of a wider trend of organizing in the nonprofit and professional sector, Barber said, even as unionization rates in other sectors decline.
Overall the U.S. unionization rate remained at a record low 10.7 percent in 2017, but union membership in the traditionally nonunion professional and technical sectors grew by nearly 90,000 members, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Nonprofit organizing isn’t a new phenomenon, Cornell University’s Kate Bronfenbrenner said. Bronfenbrenner is the director of Labor Education Research there. Social workers, nonprofit hospitals, and public universities have been a focus of union organizing going back to the 1970s and 1980s, but it appears that think tanks like the CBPP are the new focus.
The nature of these nonprofits, where head researchers serve as supervisors, might result in small gains for unions. But supervisors can’t organize and “an awful lot of people are managers,” Bronfenbrenner said.
The NPEU has also organized the Center for American Progress and the Economic Policy Institute.
Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece about the Center for American Progress (CAP) being unionized.