The Boston Globe, July 2020
College Bound Dorchester has a progressive mission: paying gang members a weekly stipend to get off the streets, go to college, and turn their negative influence into a positive one. But now the groundbreaking nonprofit is caught up in an old-fashioned union battle as a workforce emboldened by nationwide demands for equity confronts a management team grappling with structural reorganization and financial woes exacerbated by the pandemic.
With the resurgent Black Lives Matter movement pushing racial injustice to the forefront of America’s consciousness, the group of largely Black employees serving a mostly Black clientele is demanding more rights, and encountering resistance from their white CEO. Some workers have called management’s actions racist, while others in the community question the union’s tactics, saying it is fanning the flames of inequality to attract new members.
The workers first reached out to Service Employees International Union Local 888 in January, for advice about organizing a walkout following the layoffs of three co-workers, prompting several staffers to look into forming a union. Then the pandemic hit, disproportionately hurting communities of color and throwing College Bound Dorchester’s finances into a tailspin.