"We're the best thing that's ever happened to you! Take this money you unfortunate slave, keep your mouth closed, and run!"
Why haven’t people spoken up about the toxicity of PUSH Buffalo before?
A few have tried and been ignored or dismissed as crazy, while many former PUSH Buffalo employees, especially People of Color and poor people with families, have been forced to stay silent about their experiences working at PUSH Buffalo in exchange for money. You see, when PUSH Buffalo employees are fired, they are given an impossible choice: either speak the truth about workplace abuse, or take the money they need to sustain their families while they find a new job.
In exchange for a lump sum on money (usually in the $10,000 to $15,000 range), PUSH Buffalo forces the newly-fired employee to sign what is called a “nondisclosure agreement,” (an NDA) a legal contract that forbids them from speaking out about the harm that PUSH Buffalo has done to them, their fellow workers, and community members. We use the word “force” here because PUSH is often the best-paying job (with benefits!) that this person will ever have, and if they have bills to pay and a family to support, they need that hush money to hold them over as they search for new work.
To make matters worse, when a staff person leaves PUSH Buffalo on bad terms (whether or not they sign a nondisclosure agreement), the higher-ups will spin lies to destroy that person’s reputation, blackball the person in the “movement” so they cannot find other social justice work, and force them into the extractive and dehumanizing systems that they claim to protect people from. PUSH has blackballed former employees in the wider nonprofit community for years, blocking them from job opportunities at the local, state, and national levels.
For an organization whose mission includes “advancing economic justice in Buffalo,” PUSH Buffalo insidiously applies economic coercion on its own staff to keep them silent about the issues that plague their workplace. Furthermore, the social justice movement is always talking about the importance of accountability and healing, but that is impossible when organizations like PUSH are forcing their own employees to sign legal documents that prevent them from speaking their truth.