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San Diego Greenpeace canvassers are leading a strike against the global environmental activism giant, claiming that Greenpeace has provided them little in the way of job security, and has violated what they believe to be fair labor policies.
According to the San Diego Free Press, 16 of 19 canvassers hired by Greenpeace to collect small-dollar donations and routine donation commitments have walked off the job and are currently “on strike.” The group accuses Greenpeace of “hypocricy,” claiming that while touting progressive ideals, Greenpeace benefits primarily from the work of a labor force that has no minimum wage and must meet donation quotas regularly to retain their employment.
The strike, led by two veteran canvassers in Socialist Alternative San Diego, comes against an organization that claims to be progressive. However, Greenpeace uses a quota system where even veteran fundraisers can be fired for missing quota two or three weeks consecutively. Senior workers bring in six or seven times their salary in recurring donations, yet are routinely fired. Morale is understandably very low. But choosing to resist, they have mobilized in defense of their jobs and dignity. Non-profits beware: the persuasive skills developed by your employees can be used against you. Instead of selling Greenpeace, organizers now sell the strike against it.
Tara Dawn, a strike member from the Sacramento field office, said “As a single mother, I work hard week in and week out not knowing if I’ll have a dependable paycheck to keep a roof over our heads. That is a very difficult reality to face. I love my job and the organization I work for, but myself and the all of the other canvassers deserve to see reform.”
They claim that senior and mid-level Greenpeace managers have formed a “Worker Elite,” and that Greenpeace’s vast network of managers are paid well enough that street-level canvassers, who collect names, small-dollar donations and multi-month donation commitments from San Diego residents should be given a “fair share.”
A cursory glance at Craiglist can give you a good idea of what the Greenpeace canvasser job entails. Greenpeace advertises a similar position in Los Angeles – a “frontline” worker – as a “full-time” job and lists only an hourly wage of $13-15 per hour, slightly more than the minimum wage. They do offer paid training time, bonuses for good performance, and a full benefits and leave package for those Greenpeace canvassers who maintain their employment for three months. Employees even get paid vacations and even mass transit subsidies. There is, however, no “job security” involved. You can’t have everything.
It’s not hard to believe that Greenpeace provides an excellent employment package. After all, the “non-profit” mega-group boasts a $360 million global budget, spending an average of $10 million per year on US operations alone. According to its recent 990 IRS filing, Greenpeace took in more than $32 million in 2014. Of course, you can’t please everyone.