Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Guttmacher Union Wins, But Union Leader is Fired Within Hours of Victory

On July 7, 97% of Guttmacher employees voted in favor of unionizing. Within hours, a worker and key organizer of the union effort was fired. The fight for labor rights is linked to the fight for abortion rights, especially following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

K.S. Mehta

July 13, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share
Photo: Strikewave

On July 7, Guttmacher Employees United announced that employees voted to unionize in a 61-2 vote — 97% of employees voted in favor. 

On May 2, the same day that the draft of the Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was leaked, Guttmacher employees announced that they joined with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) and demanded management to recognize their union. Guttmacher management initially talked about being amenable to voluntarily recognizing the union, but ultimately hired Jackson Lewis, a notorious union-busting law firm, as their legal counsel. Guttmacher Employees United filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to begin the process of holding an election. 

Workers at Guttmacher Institute are fighting for better opportunities for growth and promotion, more equitable pay, and better working conditions. Madeleine Haas, a member of the organizing committee who has worked at the Guttmacher Institute for 2 years also cited increased transparency in decision making as another core demand. The months before the vote have been marked by high staff turnover. In the past 15 months, 37 employees have either left the organization or indicated that they plan to leave, 10 of 11 workers in the policy arm have quit, and 16 additional employees have left the institute’s research division — a figure the union estimates constitutes more than a quarter of the organization’s researchers. Workers say that they have experienced hostile, toxic behaviors, murky promotion criteria, and inequitable compensation persisted, and that “being shamed, ignored, and punished by senior leadership for raising and trying to address these issues.”  

The fight against terrible work conditions and for a union at Guttmacher Institute, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, is especially important. As workers explain a few weeks before the decision came down, the workers want to “alleviate the organization’s high attrition rate at a crucial time for our movement.” As they explain, “With the Supreme Court likely to overturn Roe v. Wade, this pivotal moment demands mutual support, organizational transparency, and swift, collective action. This moment demands a union.”

Not even an hour after the union vote passed, organizing committee member Sam Heyne was fired — a clear example of retaliation and union-busting. Sam was pulled into an impromptu meeting, denied her Weingarten rights to request a union representative, and was fired immediately. OPEIU Local 153 is calling for CEO Herminia Palacio and VP of Finance and Administration Maureen Burnley to stop union busting and reinstate Sam immediately. You can sign the petition here.

The bosses at liberal institutions are ultimately still bosses — they will do anything necessary to limit workers from taking more ownership and control over their workplaces. Being a CEO at the Guttmacher Institute, a leading progressive research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, doesn’t preclude you from being beholden to your board over your employees. This must serve as a lesson — bosses are not our allies and they will dispose of us as soon as it is convenient, no matter how many tweets they send about looking forward to a collaborative and successful relationship with the union.

Guttmacher Institute employees are joining a slew of reproductive health organizations fighting to unionize, such as Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, and AccessMatters. Workers at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country are echoing some of the same concerns as Guttmacher employees, saying that they are understaffed, underpaid, and overworked, and that the lack of resources is undermining their ability to do their jobs in a moment when it is more important than ever to have all hands on deck in the fight for abortion rights. 

All of these workers are explicitly linking the fight for labor rights and protections to the fight for abortion rights. Ashley Little, a research assistant at Guttmacher stated, “Both abortion and workers’ rights are about having control of the decisions that affect your life, and if we’re going to continue on in a post-Roe America, workers need to have a say in their lives.” As abortion rights come under attack in an alarming number of states, reproductive health worker unions, whether that be in clinical care like Planned Parenthood or research institutions like Guttmacher, must be on the front lines. Furthermore, they should be calling on other unions to use their labor power to fight for abortion rights alongside them — to fight for the right to free, safe, legal abortion on demand with all of the power of the working class and against retaliation from bosses for organizing their workplaces. 

Facebook Twitter Share

K.S. Mehta

K.S. Mehta is a research assistant in New York City.

Labor Movement

CUNY workers at a demonstration hold a banner that reads "STRIKE TO SAVE CUNY."

CUNY Workers Launch New Strike Campaign

As Governor Hochul proposes another $528 million in cuts, workers at the City University of New York are fighting back.

Olivia Wood

February 12, 2024
With the U.S Capitol in the background, demonstrators rally during the March on Washington for Gaza at Freedom Plaza in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024.

AFL-CIO’s Ceasefire Call Shows Power of the Movement for Palestine

The AFL-CIO has called for a ceasefire in Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza. The labor movement must go further for Palestinian liberation and break with the bipartisan regime.

Otto Fors

February 11, 2024

After Historic Strike, UAW Bureaucrats Sit By as Stellantis Lays Off Hundreds of Workers

Only a few months after a historic contract struggle and strike, Stellantis announced job cuts in early December that have begun and will continue to take effect this month. A reminder that under capitalism the only way for workers to get what they need is self-organization, independent of the union bureaucracy, Democrats and Republicans.

Emma Boyhtari

February 2, 2024
Joe Biden and Shawn Fain, UAW president, standing on a stage together. UAW has endorsed Biden for president.

The UAW’s Endorsement of “Genocide Joe” Is a Betrayal of Palestinians and Workers

The UAW has endorsed “Genocide Joe” for president, betraying Palestinians and workers. It’s time for labor to break with the Democrats.

Otto Fors

January 29, 2024


With Rafah in the Crosshairs, the Working Class Can Stop the Genocide in Gaza

As Israel prepares an invasion of Rafah, workers’ organizations around the world must take action before it's too late.

James Dennis Hoff

February 21, 2024

“Antideutsche”: The Aberration of Germany’s Pro-Zionist Left

As Germany persists in its unwavering support of Israel and the total denial of its genocide, the German Left is conflicted over the issue. While leftists all over the world are showing solidarity with Palestine, a segment of the German Left is historically pro-Zionist. How did this movement, the so-called Antideutsche (Anti-Germans) come to be?

Seb Zürcher

February 21, 2024

Why German Media are Lying About the Palestine Solidarity Movement at the Free University of Berlin

A rally in front of the Free University of Berlin had as many journalists as demonstrators. This is yet another example of the international campaign to defame all protests against Israel's genocidal military campaign.

Nathaniel Flakin

February 16, 2024
Aftermath of Israeli bombing of Rafah, Gaza.

Israel Told Palestinians to Evacuate to Rafah — then Bombed Them

After instructing civilians to evacuate south, Israel has bombed the southern border city of Rafah. It’s not about eradicating Hamas — it’s ethnic cleansing.

Sou Mi

February 12, 2024