Welcome to the IWW Sisters’ Camelot Canvass Union!
We are the canvassers of Sisters’ Camelot, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that distributes free organic food to low-income neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. Our work keeps Sisters’ Camelot running: through canvassing we raise 90-95% of the funds that allow the organization to operate. Unfortunately, we feel there is a culture of disrespect against canvassers– one which even Sisters’ Camelot engages in despite its radically progressive nature.
Sisters’ Camelot is managed by a collective. They work on the programming aspects of the organization (i.e. the kitchen bus, food share bus, urban garden), coordinate volunteers, maintain the books, and manage the canvass operation. As such, they are our bosses: they have exclusive power to hire, fire, suspend, promote, demote canvassers. This power disparity is unfair to us; we have the intellect, skills, and experience to manage the canvass ourselves.
We formed a union with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) on the consensus model and unanimously decided to seek better job conditions, the ability to control our own work environment, and organizational egalitarianism in which programming workers are not placed above canvass workers.
Summary of the Sisters’ Camelot Canvass Union campaign:
After months of consensus-based organizing, the canvass workers at Sisters’ Camelot went public to the bosses as unionized with the IWW on Monday, February 25, 2013.
On Friday, March 1 the union met with the managing collective to begin negotiations– only to be forced to go on strike when management flatly refused to negotiate with the union.
On Monday, March 4 the union attended the managing collective’s weekly decision-making meeting, hoping to restart negotiations. At this meeting the managing collective publicly fired one of the striking union members in retaliation for union organizing.
Since then, the managing collective (with the help of a group of their friends) has run an aggressive union-busting campaign– including character assassination of the fired union member, and many public statements full of lies about the facts of our unionization & management’s refusal to negotiate.
After several weeks of being on strike, the union made an offer of a package deal to the management. This deal took all demands regarding pay and benefits off the table, leaving only 8 terms of unionization. These 8 terms would have simply given the workers more workplace democracy and more control over their immediate work environment. The management refused this offer to end the strike.
Soon after the package deal was refused by management, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) made a decision that the firing of a striking union member was illegal. Upon making that decision, the NLRB offered the management a settlement offer to end legal proceedings which would include rehiring the fired worker and paying back-pay.
Instead of accepting the settlement offer from the NLRB, the Sisters’ Camelot managing collective is now working with a known right-wing union-busting lawyer to fight the decision in court. (Learn more about this lawyer’s shady history by clicking here.)
The case was taken before an Administrative Law Judge on June 6 and 7, who decided that Sisters’ Camelot canvassers are correctly classified as independent contractors, and therefore are not protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Thus, although Sisters’ Camelot clearly engaged in union-busting behavior, technically their actions were not illegal according to this verdict. (Learn more details in this post.)
The Minneapolis NLRB disagrees, believing that Sisters’ Camelot canvassers are misclassified as independent contractors and should be treated as employees under the eyes of the law. The case is being appealed to the Washington DC board. We currently await their decision on the matter.
Meanwhile, the canvassers of Sisters’ Camelot decided to form their own food justice non-profit, the North Country Food Alliance. Read more about it here.
For more information, check out these helpful links:
- Visit our updates page for the latest news and information
- Our original 18 demands
- A proposal to end the strike (which the collective turned down) with our 8 terms of unionization
- A short FAQ
- Our original press release when we first went public
Thank you for taking the time to visit our website!
-The Sisters’ Camelot Canvass Union