An update from Brookings United: Why we asked for voluntary recognition of our union

It has now been one week since we launched our union, Brookings United. We are so excited for the future we are going to build together at Brookings and we are grateful for the support we continue to receive from our membership and from the broader Brookings community. As we approach the deadline for a response to our request for voluntary recognition next week, we wanted to provide an update on our campaign.

Who we are

Brookings United is the culmination of an organizing effort led by staff that dates back three years. The union represents nearly 200 non-supervisory staff across the Institution—in both research and non-research departments. This includes staff in research programs like Governance Studies, Foreign Policy, and Metropolitan Policy, as well as in non-research business units like Central Communications, Central Development, Finance, and ITS, among others.

As we announced with the public launch of our union last week, a supermajority of the nearly 200 eligible staff across all departments have already signed authorization cards indicating their support for, and triggering the formation of, our union. In other words, a supermajority of staff haven’t just tentatively expressed support—they have taken a concrete step by signing an authorization card indicating that they want to be represented by Brookings United and the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union. In addition to signing a confidential authorization card, more than 60 staff members also signed their name to our letter to management requesting recognition. Those staff who felt comfortable adding their names and faces to our effort represent just a subset of the supermajority of Brookings non-supervisory staff who have signed union authorization cards.

What we’re asking for

We are asking for voluntary recognition of our union, rather than immediately filing for an NLRB election, because we know that it is the best way for us to move forward in collaboration with management. Part of the voluntary recognition process will include a mutually-agreed-upon third party verifying what we already know—that an overwhelming majority of eligible staff have signed union authorization cards to form our union. Voluntary recognition is the only way for Brookings to honor the staff and live our shared belief that workers deserve a seat at the table. Over 90% of workplaces represented by the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union in their 20+ year history have been certified via the voluntary recognition process, each following a neutral verification that a majority of support was achieved.

We are confident that Brookings management will share the view that voluntary recognition is the only viable path forward because the importance of collective bargaining is borne out in our research, and because a basic respect for staff voice is a value shared across the organization.

What comes next

In our letter announcing formation of our union with support from a supermajority of eligible staff, we asked for a response to our request for recognition by Tuesday, April 27. We look forward to hearing back from management in advance of that deadline and will be ready to work together to formalize the details of voluntarily recognizing our union following a neutral card check.