Happy May Day! The NLRB is Looking into PUSH Buffalo’s Work Practices.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is looking into allegations that PUSH Buffalo violated the National Labor Relations Act(NLRA) when its executive staff retaliated against Aminah Johnson and Kat Cejka, two outspoken critics of their toxic work culture, by firing them after they organized with their fellow workers for better working conditions.The National Labor Relations Act
is a law passed in 1935 that protects many forms of labor organizing in the workplace. Even though bosses like PUSH Buffalo’s executive staff act like they can do whatever they want, there are laws that exist to protect workers, and the NLRA is one of them. Time will tell if it works!
Aminah worked at PUSH from the start, for 15 years, and was the first paid staff person. Kat had been working on staff at PUSH for about a year and was a devoted organizing volunteer a year before she was hired. While on staff, both women were vocal about PUSH Buffalo workplace and operational practices and were treated accordingly. PUSH Senior Executives targeted Aminah and Kat for termination, fired them in the middle of a global pandemic, and blocked them from working for other organizations that PUSH influences. Aminah and Kat are still struggling to find full time work while litigating their NLRB case.
Aminah and Kat are two people in a long line of former PUSH Buffalo employees, members, and others who have been harmed by PUSH after they spoke up about its harmful practices and toxic organizational culture throughout its existence. We have a list of 80 former staff members who have been forced or coerced out, and we know that there are more people we don’t know about or can’t remember. And this is just staff — we are working on counting up former members, tenants, volunteers, and board members, too.
As explained in our initial post
about Aminah Johnson, the former Tenant Advocate for PUSH Buffalo, she and the rest of the PUSH Organizing department collectively inquired about PUSH Buffalo’s budget practices. They were met with immediate blockage and intimidation by members of the PUSH Buffalo Senior Management Team. This was further exasperated when the entire organizing team, including Aminah and Kat, sent an email directly to PUSH Buffalo’s board of directors and their supervisors, Harper Bishop, Rahwa Ghirmatzion, and Dawn Wells-Clyburn, asking to be present when their team’s final budget was presented to the board. That didn’t sit well with members of PUSH’s Senior Management Team. Presumably using the two as examples of their non-profit industrial complex power, Kat resigned as soon as she knew she would be fired the next day, and PUSH fired Aminah a couple of weeks later.
The paperwork has been publicly filed with the NLRB and is moving through legal proceedings. We hope that the NLRB does the right thing. Johnson refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement or NDA and turned down a $25,000 settlement package so she could still speak up and stick up for herself in court. No matter the outcome of the case, this situation is one of many examples of how PUSH’s actions are so often a direct contradiction to its mission of “expanding local hiring opportunities” and “advancing economic justice in Buffalo.”
It’s important to be clear that both Kat and Johnson have more power to push back legally against the harmful non-profit industrial complex than past employees. Many people who have worked at PUSH and even at other non-profits or organizations have had to or were unaware of their protections to organize under the National Labor Relations Act, and/or have signed NDAs in the face of little to no other employment options. As we have told you in other posts, NDAs are contracts these corporations will give you if you don’t know your rights that basically say; “Shut up sucka, take this little bit of money, and run.”
We want to change the outcomes for workers in situations like this through sharing more information and resources that can help you organize and build power at the workplace. Readers can surf our website at www.pullbuffalo.com
to read more of the horror stories we have heard.
We’ll update you as we learn more in Aminah and Kat’s case.