Change.org workers in B.C., Ontario officially unionized with CWA Canada

2022.01.04

The federal labour board has granted an interim order certifying CWA Canada to represent workers at online petition company Change.org.

The Canada Industrial Relations Board will hold a hearing Feb. 9 to determine which employees should be included in the bargaining unit. The union is seeking to represent 26 workers in B.C. and Ontario, while the company is challenging the inclusion of some.

Calling themselves Solidarity@Change, the workers went public last spring with a cross-border campaign to unionize with the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

The employer, which has North American headquarters in San Francisco and Victoria, co-operated with the drive and voluntarily recognized the union in the U.S.

CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said the union looks forward to bargaining a strong contract that will give workers a real voice.

The workers said they unionized to ensure their working conditions remain the same for the long term, and that they have a say in the future of the company.

“I’m working at Change because its mission is to use technology to raise even the smallest of voices,” said a software developer.

“It is only natural that such a company have its external pro-democratic mission reflected internally by the organization of its workers. Bargaining can surface a lot of frustrations that might otherwise go unspoken and cause attrition.”

The 65 employees south of the border organized with the help of CWA Local 9410 in San Francisco. Management voluntarily recognized the U.S. union after it was certified by a neutral arbitrator following confirmation in late May that a majority had signed membership cards.

“We are campaigners, engineers, content creators, designers, product managers, and operations professionals,” the workers said in a mission statement last year.

“We work to give everyone around the globe a voice on our open platform through the democratization of activism — and to achieve this, every worker at Change must have a voice, too.”

Billing itself as the “world’s platform for change” and described by The New York Times as the “go-to site for Web uprisings,” Change.org is a multimillion-dollar for-profit private corporation that has seven office locations in four countries and more than 200 global staff.

It claims to have more than 300 million users and supporters in 196 countries. People and organizations around the world can start petitions for free.

The company is supported in part by investors. It derives some of its revenue from memberships and solicits donations from petition signers; the money covers operating costs and marketing campaigns that promote Change.org and its petitions.

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