Employees of the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), a left-wing nonprofit active in Maine politics, are seeking to unionize because of how the environmentalist organization’s new boss is running the operation.
Last week, four NRCM employees joined a conference call with the Maine Service Employees Association – Service Employees International Association 1989 (MSEA-SEIU), the union that represents most of Maine’s state government employees.
During the meeting, MSEA-SEIU Director of Organizing Angela MacWhinnie introduced the NRCM of employees to the meeting, stating that the staffers had reached out to the union seeking to join.
Outreach Director Emmie Theberge, IT Manager Lisa Hodgkins, Regional Outreach Coordinator for Franklin County Mark Edwards, and Outreach Coordinator Josh Caldwell were the NRCM staffers present on the call.
Caldwell said the 27 full-time employees of the NRCM are seeking to unionize, in large part, because of the new CEO, Rebeccah Sanders.
According to a source familiar with the organizing efforts, Caldwell said Sanders has made changes at NRCM that have exacerbated pre-existing problems within the nonprofit.
Caldwell specifically said Sanders has changed pay and benefits, conducted disciplinary meetings without representation for workers, and made decisions without transparency.
“We’ve seen firings and threats of firings, including amongst our longtime senior staff,” Caldwell told the MSEA members.
According to Caldwell, a supermajority of NRCM employees have already thrown their support behind unionizing.
Sanders did not respond to a request for comment.
Edward SImmons, the Chair of the Board of NRCM, also did not respond to a request for comment.
The NRCM announced that Sanders, the former “Strategy Officer” for the Audubon Society, would assume the position of CEO in Nov. 2022.
The NRCM would not be the first left-wing nonprofit to see its employees unionize against the leadership.
The MSEA, Maine’s second largest labor union, also currently represents employees of the Maine People’s Alliance, a political group funded through anonymous dark money, and the Maine chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The push to unionize NRCM staff comes as the group is backing for the adoption of controversial rules that would eventually prohibit Mainers from purchasing gas-powered vehicles.
The Maine Board of Environmental Protection will decided on Thursday, Dec. 21, whether to approve those rules, which were originally proposed by 150 signatories to a NRCM-led petition.
According to the group’s most recent Form 990 tax filing, NRCM took in more than $8.7 million in 2021.