An Open Letter to Supporters of the BKB Collective
August 26, 2020
Thank you for tuning in and following our journey these past few months. We could not have made it this far without your support. Despite Brooklyn Boulders’ attempt to silence the BKB Collective by laying off all of its NYC-based staff, we have taken the next appropriate step to continue our work fighting for change at BKB. On August 25th, 2020, the BKB Collective filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge with the Region 29 National Labor Relations Board. We believe that Brooklyn Boulders’ recent mass layoffs were retaliatory and were an effort to silence a group of workers and prevent ongoing concerted organizing.
Under our current status as former employees, we cannot guarantee that Brooklyn Boulders will make progress toward a more equitable workplace or fulfill the demands laid out on our petition on their own. We have attempted to reach out to them after the layoffs to no avail. As a collective, we see the ULP as a step to put us back on track and back at the table, so we can resume negotiations with Brooklyn Boulders leadership. If we win the case, we will have the opportunity to be put back on a furlough list and move forward with demanding more accountability from the leadership team.
We recognize the ULP as the next logical step on the road to radical change. Brooklyn Boulders will be held accountable for violating national labor law and held responsible for providing a safe and welcoming environment for Black staff and climbers. Please consider this as one part of a series of steps we are committed to taking towards a more just future for all climbers.
The BKB Collective
What is a ULP?
A Unfair Labor Practice charge (ULP) refers to a claim filed with and investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, in response to violations of national labor law. The National Labor Rights Act (NLRA) protects worker’s rights to organize for better working conditions. Labor law violations include union busting, retaliation against employees, refusal to bargain, discrimination against those involved in labor organizing, or anything else that prevents or infringes upon the right of employees to engage in collective bargaining. The charge is filed with our local branch of the NLRB, which is Brooklyn region 29.
Why is a ULP charge being filed against Brooklyn Boulders?
We believe that Brooklyn Boulders could’ve easily kept staff on furlough until they reopened but wanted to prevent continued organizing efforts by employees, which is a violation of national labor law. The Collective has been organizing to improve working conditions and make Brooklyn Boulders a more equitable place to work. Management asked how long the Collective would continue making demands, and then laid off all NYC and BKBX employees the very next day.
What is the desired outcome of the ULP charge?
We are filing a charge with the labor board to get placed back on furlough. Between that and some of the community pressure we’ve been building on social media, we hope that we can really make changes at Brooklyn Boulders and to re-engage in negotiations with HQ, in order to work toward a more equitable workplace.
Are there any other potential outcomes from the ULP?
If successful, in addition to former staff being placed back on furlough (and ultimately rehired), Brooklyn Boulders would have to renew their commitment to following national labor law in the future. If the Collective does not win the ULP, staff will have to re-apply to Brooklyn Boulders when their jobs are posted.
Could Brooklyn Boulders be made to compensate staff members financially as a result of the ULP?
No, probably not in this case unless someone else is hired in their place, and/or the original staff member experiences a loss of earnings. The bottom line for the Collective is to see former staff placed back on furlough and for the Collective's negotiations with HQ to resume.
Has the Collective tried any other method to continue negotiating with the Leadership Team at Brooklyn Boulders?
Yes. The Collective has emailed the executive team asking why we cannot be kept on a recall list, and whether they are interested in continuing negotiations or discussions relating to the petition, but has not received a response.
Have any employees been brought back or offered a job as Brooklyn Boulders plans to reopen?
BKB invited everyone to reapply for the limited number of roles now available, and has begun to reach out to people who they deem to be “high performers” to offer them a job. Most coordinator and supervisor roles are not on offer, programming has been discontinued, and certain roles have been renamed, so a number of employees now find themselves out of work and overqualified for the roles that Brooklyn Boulders is offering, with no return to recall status or indication as to when their roles may return.