Workers at progressive data firm Catalist unionize

Workers at progressive data firm Catalist unionize
© Courtesy Catalist

Workers at Catalist, a data firm that works with progressive causes, have formed a union that was voluntarily recognized by management Wednesday.

Thirty of the company’s 38 eligible employees have joined the Catalist Union and will be represented by the Communications Workers of America, which has made significant inroads into the tech industry recently.

The company’s decision to voluntarily recognize the union means there will be no formal election and that negotiations over a collective bargaining agreement will begin soon.

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“Good communication and working relationships between staff and management are key to building a stronger organization to serve the progressive community,” Michael J. Frias, the company’s CEO, said in a statement to The Hill. 

"We believe that together we can build a better, stronger, diverse, and equitable organization that continues to serve and meet the growing needs of the progressive community for many years to come. 

Catalist workers say they pursued unionization not because of any specific perceived mistreatment, but because of a broader belief in the benefits of organizing.

“All of us who work there really hold the values that a unionized workforce is a better workforce,” Faith Davenport, a data services engineer, told The Hill. “We really look forward to banding together as workers to create a union ourself and use that to collectively strengthen Catalist so that we can better serve the progressive movement.”

Catalist provides data infrastructure like voter files and models for a wide swath of left-leaning organizations and labor unions including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the AFL-CIO. 

Davinia Camellia, an account executive at the firm, told The Hill that the organizing workers’ “overall philosophy” was that if they were going to be doing work with the labor movement then they should be represented by a union as well. 

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“We want to make sure that everyone has a voice and we want to have a seat at the table for any decisions that affect workers at Catalist,” she added.

The effort to unionize Catalist follows similarly successful efforts at fellow progressively branded tech firms Mobilize and Blue State. The unions formed at both of those companies are affiliated with CWA.

CWA through its CODE initiative has also helped employees at Glitch become the first software engineer union to reach a collective bargaining agreement and was involved in forming the Alphabet Workers Union, although CWA’s involvement in that effort has brought some criticism from current and former Google employees.