Staff at Jewish Family Services organizing with CWA


St. Louis – Staff at Jewish Family Services in St. Louis (JFS) are organizing with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 6400 as Jewish Family Services Workers United, citing high turnover and a toxic work environment at the social services nonprofit.

“Myself and others that are part of the union drive think JFS is a great agency that does a lot of important work in the community… but we just don’t feel like the care extends to us as workers,” said Kelly Baker, a member of JFS Workers United (JFSWU).

JFS has a clinical team which includes, mental health therapists, nurses, and diagnostic testers. Baker is a therapist who goes into schools and provides therapy to students free of charge.

The nonprofit also provides older adult services, a food pantry that’s heavily utilized and child abuse prevention programming.

There are 26 members in the JFSWU bargaining unit.

Some of the things the workers are seeking are the standard benefits of a union contract, including:

  • Protection from unjust termination.
  • The right to have a union representative in meetings with bosses,
  • Better pay, especially for the lowest paid workers in the food pantry.
  • Additional pay when asked to take on more work.
  • Role clarity.
  • Better healthcare coverage.
  • Paid time off.
  • Sick leave.

“Although people love what they do, the environment is very toxic,” Baker said. “We have a turnover rate that shows that, but management is saying it’s just a one-off a few disgruntled employees.”

Baker said 10 workers have left or been let go from the non-profit just since January.

“Turnover is very high for such a small organization and there’s a reason for that,” she said. “It’s pretty invalidating when we’re professional adults, making informed choices about where we spend most of our waking time.

In response to the unionization effort, which first went public on March 21, JFS told organizers on March 29 it would not voluntarily recognize the union, forcing organizers to file for a request for an election with the National Labor Relations Board.

JFS has also retained the services of the notorious anti-union law firm, Ogletree Deakins.

JFSWU organizers have garnered support from the Missouri Jobs with Justice Workers Rights Board. In addition, Jews United for Justice sent letter to the JFS board, and former employees have signed a solidarity letter and offered to share their stories.

JFSWU has also launched a letter campaign and is asking supporters to sign a letter calling for the CEO and board members of JFS to allow for a free and fair election without interference.

You can sign the letter and include your own message of support for the workers  at

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