Housing Works employees and the union seeking to represent them are expressing anger over the ongoing resistance of the non-profit’s out gay CEO, Charles King, a man who they say has drifted from his radical activism to become a union-busting boss. The rift comes as the agency is in its fifth month of contending with the coronavirus pandemic, a stretch that has witnessed significant staffing changes there.
The union proponents’ latest beef is with King’s appeal to the Washington headquarters of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), where employees believe their efforts are viewed less favorably by Donald Trump appointees than they are in the federal agency’s Brooklyn district office.
The Housing Works organizing group, represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), has spent months trying to advance their effort at unionizing, complaining of shoddy health insurance plans, high caseloads, a meager paid time-off policy, and more. RWDSU and some Housing Works employees say the battle represents an ironic twist at a non-profit that has spent decades preaching progressive causes while serving clients with HIV/ AIDS experiencing homelessness.
Workers stormed off the job last October and held a rally at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall, where folks heard testimonials from employees like Siobhán Fuller, a transgender woman who explained that her agency health insurance plan included a high deductible that forced her to shell out hundreds of dollars for necessary hormones as well as a $100 bill for every doctor appointment.