In our Feb. 20 issue, we reported that Portland’s First Unitarian Church agreed to recognize a union of church support employees known as sextons.
Church leaders initially rebuffed the idea that the workers could be represented by Communications Workers of America Local 7901, pointing out that federal labor law doesn’t require churches to recognize employee unions. But pressure from members of the famously progressive congregation prompted a change of heart, and on Feb. 7, church leaders agreed to recognize and bargain with the union for the 19 employees.
Negotiations on a first union contract have been under way since then. The church also launched a fundraising campaign, asking members to dig deeper by pledging an additional $120,000 a year — in order to raise wages to at least $15 an hour. As of late April, the congregation was reportedly close to meeting that goal.