We are field canvassers at Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, protesting against unfair labor conditions on the job and retaliation for organizing. We are workers committed to working class causes, including raising the minimum wage and electing pro-worker candidates, but we have been unable to perform our jobs properly due to poor decisions by upper management in regards to safety in the field and lack of real union representation.

As canvassers, we are made to work outside with extreme heat advisories in effect - with inadequate care for those who fall ill under such conditions. Numerous reports of sexual harassment go unaddressed and victims are forced to report incidents themselves at the risk of exposure to perpetrators. Concerns around COVID-19 are also ignored; those who test positive are given uncompensated and inadequate time to recover, and close contacts are expected to continue working in close proximity to others during their potential incubation period. Our physical safety in the field is also a concern. We understand the need to expand our canvassing operations into the suburbs, but canvassers - especially those of color and members of the LGBTQ community - have faced numerous instances of aggression and threats while working in these areas and have had to face those dangers alone.

When workers brought these issues to the attention of management and requested 15 minutes to speak with their coworkers alone, management attempted to silence them and forcibly removed one canvasser for filming the event. In retaliation for speaking out, several of us have been fired.

Our union representative under our current contract, a lawyer based in Texas, has proven completely unresponsive to these grievances. We have therefore been forced to take organizing into our own hands.

We demand the following:

1. That management take extreme weather conditions seriously and treat weather over a certain heat index as hazardous weather, the same as thunderstorms and other dangerous conditions, or provide alternative indoor activities on days in which extreme heat warnings are in effect;

2. That allegations of sexual harassment be taken seriously, that a one strike rule be implemented against perpetrators, and that victims be given protection of anonymity;

3. That the safety of canvassers facing racist, bigoted, and aggressive behavior in various suburban areas is taken seriously, and a partner system implemented in such areas;

4. That concerns around COVID-19 be taken seriously, and that those infected and exposed be given adequate compensation and time to recover and prevent further spread;

5. The opportunity to elect new union representatives of our choosing, that work in our office and are easily accessible, who are responsive to our demands and fight for us;

6. That drivers be given adequate compensation for their additional labor and be covered for costs of work vehicles, including tickets and gas;

7. That those who have stood up and fought for their rights not be retaliated against through firing nor any other means and that back pay be given to those who have lost work hours due to their organizing activities.

We know Philadelphians of all walks of life share our values and the progressive, pro-worker agenda Working America claims to fight for. We are asking our coworkers and the public to stand with us and support our protest so that we may be able to continue to fight for this agenda while protecting our own rights as workers. Please join our protest, share this info with friends, donate to our mutual aid fund, and support our fight to keep Working America true to its professed values.

In Solidarity,
Workers Union of Working America

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