Mazzoni Center Staff Vote to Unionize

By a 51-34 vote, front-line staff at the controversial nonprofit chose to organize under the SEIU.

Mazzoni Center staff and union organizers immediately after unionization vote results.

After weeks of internal turmoil over the decision to consider unionization, Mazzoni Center front-line staff voted 51-34 on Wednesday evening in favor of a petition to organize filed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The vote follows months of management woes and staff protests at the controversial Gayborhood nonprofit and recent concerns over the organization’s hiring of an alt-right, anti-union consulting firm.

“It happened, it really happened,” a staff member said as a group of them rejoiced outside of Mazzoni Center headquarters at Broad and Bainbridge. “Change is really coming.”

The voting process ran until 6 p.m. Wednesday, as only front-line staff (not managers/supervisors or upper-level staff) had the opportunity to vote throughout the day. Interim executive director Steven Glassman sent the following message to staff earlier in the day:

However you decide to vote, and I encourage everyone eligible to vote, I wish you well and pledge to work with you to make Mazzoni Center the best possible LGBTQIA Health Center imaginable. It is time for us to focus on our mission and to serve the needs of those who depend upon our dedicated and unwavering commitment to providing outstanding healthcare, education, and prevention services in the Philadelphia region.

Around 4 p.m., patients, protesters, and union organizers stood outside Mazzoni encouraging staff to vote “yes” to the petition. “That’s the best way for them to be supported,” said Grace, a Mazzoni patient. “[Unionizing] is going to just help them provide better care …. The patients have their back.”

By 6:20 p.m., the staff was notified of the results. G Philly was on location to Facebook Live first-moment reactions:

“I’m excited for Mazzoni staff,” an SEIU organizer said after the announcement was made. “They had to face so many obstacles with union-busters and the mess earlier this year that this is a step in the right direction.”

In a statement sent to G Philly, Mazzoni Center responded to the results, reiterating its commitment to employees:

SEIU filed a petition for an election with the National Labor Relations Board to determine whether a set of non-management staff members want the SEIU to be its collective bargaining representative. Today, a majority of eligible members of Mazzoni’s staff voted for a union to represent them. Mazzoni Center’s management pledges to continue working to make Mazzoni Center the best workplace it can be. That includes negotiating in good faith with the union in an attempt to find agreement and common ground and continue building a workplace that is supportive of staff as well as patients and clients. In fact, since his appointment nine weeks ago, Interim CEO Steve Glassman and the senior management have been initiating studies in the areas of employee benefits, compensation, and equity, all with a particular emphasis on diversity and inclusion efforts. Steve and the leadership team, working with the SEIU, will continue to promote a workplace of equity and competitive benefits and compensation.

Before and during the election process – and for more than 38 years – Mazzoni’s staff, management, and community volunteers have continually worked together to provide exceptional care to all of our patients and clients. Our commitment to delivering the highest quality of care and services to all is resolute and forms the foundation of what we do together for the benefit of more than 35,000 patients and clients annually.

Office of LGBT Affairs executive director Amber Hikes reacted to the results quickly after the announcement on social media: