We are a collective of Brooklyn Boulders employees. We are speaking out against systemic racism within our organization and demanding immediate action.
An Open Letter to Supporters of the BKB Collective
The Collective has filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the National Labor Relations Board. The ULP is a step to put us back on track and back at the table so we can resume negotiations with Brooklyn Boulders leadership. We've written an open letter to the community and created a Q&A to explain our ULP charge and answer any questions you might have.
Fact-Checking the BKB Executive Team
BKB leadership responded to an open letter from the BKBeast parents with an aggressive, error-filled email that attempts to misrepresent and undermine the Collective. We fact-checked their email to set the record straight.
BKBeast parents stand in solidarity with the Collective.
More than 110 BKBeast Youth Team parents signed and sent a letter to HQ in support of our Collective — thank you for standing with us against systemic racism and injustice.
BKB has responded to our petition.
Brooklyn Boulders has used its accountability dashboard to address our petition.
Join us in action
We want to continue our work, but BKB's layoffs have stalled negotiations with management.
If you want to support us, this is what we need:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and demand that employees be returned to furlough status and given the opportunity for continued negotiation around our petition. If you’ve been paying dues during the closure, demand a refund for those payments unless staff is guaranteed job security.
The safety of our Black staff and climbers is our top priority. Let management know that unless they commit to improving working conditions, returning staff to furlough status, and continuing negotiations, you will not be returning to BKB.
We’re so grateful for all your support, and look forward to the day when we can climb together again in a safer, more inclusive, and more equitable environment.
Letter to the BKB Board of Directors
We are a collective of NYC-based employees of Brooklyn Boulders, who are speaking out against systemic racism within our organization and demanding immediate action that addresses our history of discrimination and abuse. We are complicit in perpetuating racism in the workplace, want to acknowledge the many ways in which we have failed our Black co-workers, and have made a collective commitment to continuing in the work of anti-racism and actively listen to our Black community.
Over the years, our organization has been plagued by a toxic culture that protects top executives with a history of racism, misogyny, and discriminatory actions against BIPOC employees. Current employees, former employees, and members of the community have all spoken out to shed light on specific instances of discrimination and abuse. Brooklyn Boulders also has a troubling history of targeting Black people for termination unrelated to job performance, as well as passing them over for promotions and valuable training opportunities in favor of white employees. Despite claiming to have a company culture that values “radical transparency”, the executive team has long been dangerously secretive, completely unapproachable by facility employees, and accountable to no one.
This complete failure of leadership has put the company at risk of losing its entire member base and completely eroded the climbing community’s trust in Brooklyn Boulders. We demand immediate action in order to protect our Black employees, counteract racial and economic injustice, regain the trust of our community, and become what our values and mission publicly espouse. This action includes:
1. A public commitment to majority turnover of executive leadership by the end of 2020 and to fill their roles under the guidance of a professional DEI consultant
All hiring or promotions at the executive level must be approved by a hiring committee that includes a full-time DEI consultant along with a representative from each lifestyle facility at the department management level (excluding GM or AGM)
Regular internal reviews of upper management by the same committee of rotating representatives
2. An end to the cultural appropriation and co-opting of BIPOC climbers’ imagery for promotional gain
Proper compensation for the subjects of any promotional imagery used on all platforms in the past, present, and future
3. Immediate production of a documented plan and tangible commitment to increased program and facility access for the neighborhoods and communities that we operate within, and a discontinuation of discounted access for those who have been detrimental to the community
A commitment to financial reparations, programming and mentorship for Black and Brown youth and adults
The creation of a Community Coordinator at each facility for the purpose of engagement with the Black communities in the neighborhoods where BKB has contributed to gentrification
Immediate discontinuation of discounted facility access being offered to members of the NYPD
4. Implementation of recurring training and a system of reporting that protects our Black employees and climbers, and an acknowledgement that climbing gyms are historically triggering and unsafe spaces for Black climbers and employees
A commitment to not only robust, but recurring, implicit bias training for staff at every level of the company. Training needs to be explicit that working with Black staff involves listening to Black coworkers when they have concerns, and that group thinking in a predominantly white organization can be dangerous to Black people, especially when fear of retaliation may prevent them from speaking out against racist transgressions.
A reporting and accountability system that documents and tracks microaggressions reported within the facility, and a commitment to monitor trends within facilities and take action to correct them
Procedural support for employees to hold customers accountable for racist or discriminatory behavior
5. Monetary and mental health support for our Black staff, who overwhelmingly work in some of the lowest paid jobs within the organization
A respectable, living wage for employees of all levels
Quarterly raises for both part time and full time employees
Full pay transparency for all positions within the company
More affordable healthcare options offered immediately in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the disproportionately high toll it has taken on the Black community
A commitment to Wellness at Work, including free and easily accessible mental health support both on and off the clock, which addresses the emotional toll of working within the climbing industry for our Black staff
6. Immediate release of all former employees from their NDAs
NDAs have historically been used by Brooklyn Boulders to bully and silence individuals who have either left the company or been forced out, and prevent them from speaking to the racism and abuse that they either experienced or witnessed while on the job
An end to the use of NDAs moving forward
7. An end to at-will employment, which has been used repeatedly to target Black employees for termination that has been unrelated to job performance
If terminating Black employees, the process must include accounts from multiple witnesses who can attest to the fireable offense
Employees are allowed a co-worker of their own choosing to be a witness in any disciplinary action that management takes, including termination.
8. Juneteenth (June 19th) is to become a company holiday, along with the addition of MLK day
Columbus day will be unacknowledged and removed from the company calendar
9. Management commits to no expansion, redevelopment, executive salary raises, or creation of additional executive positions until our demands are met
Company profits are to be directed to first meeting these demands before launching new initiatives
Capital investment is to be redirected away from expansion in the luxury fitness sphere, which takes advantage of wealth inequality and contributes to gentrification
Funds are to be reinvested in facility level staff and in the expansion of outdoor access for underserved communities
We believe these steps to be urgent and necessary if Brooklyn Boulders is to become a trusted institution within the outdoor industry. We are deeply committed to creating a company, culture, and community that is safe and welcoming to all. We believe in the potential of Brooklyn Boulders to overcome our past failure to live up to the values that we’ve publicly espoused, and the urgent necessity of broadening our climbing community to create a more equitable future for Black climbers, and better serve the local communities within which we operate.
If we have not received a written response which meets our demands within 24 hours, we will take the next steps to ensure that this action happens. Furthermore, if there has not been significant progress toward every one of these actions by the time the first Brooklyn Boulders facility reopens to the public, we will be asking Jeremy Balboni to resign his position as CEO due to failure of leadership. We are pleased to be able to offer this list as a first step toward a more equitable workplace, and the beginning of a continuing conversation around racial justice within our organization.
Brooklyn Boulders Employee Collective
[90 employees strong and still growing]
***We are actively tracking Brooklyn Boulders' accountability by highlighting each demand that has been met***