The CEO of Planned Parenthood’s Rocky Mountain division in Colorado is being accused of working with Trump appointees to shut down her employees’ efforts to unionize.
According to a letter circulated by the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) bargaining team, PPRM CEO Vicki Cowart is actively opposed to the union her workers voted to form in December. Cowart reportedly organized against the unionization vote, and then appealed the vote after a majority of employees voted to unionize. This includes working with the Republican-controlled National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to appeal the union vote. The NLRB was, until April, chaired by Marvin Kaplan — whom President Trump appointed to the position in 2017.
“On top of all of that, it is extremely difficult to watch PPRM pay for high-powered attorneys to battle us on two fronts: collective bargaining & appealing the NLRB’s decision,” the letter reads. “Couldn’t some of those resources be used to better compensate staff at the bottom of the agency pay scale?”
Workers, who voted to unionize with the Service Employees International Union’s Local 105 affiliate in Denver, Colorado, say they held their vote as a means of organizing for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Their letter also alleges that worker turnover at Planned Parenthood is high, particularly for healthcare providers. Workers are calling on not only the Rocky Mountain division, but also on the national headquarters to openly support unionization for all employees as a means of having solidarity with the larger progressive movement as a whole.
“Labor Unions represent not only our allies, but also our patients and other community partners. If we want to succeed in our mission as a health care provider, we need to welcome the unionization of staff as a way to show our true commitment to the progressive movement,” the letter reads. “Planned Parenthood Federation of America has chosen to be neutral on matters of unionization & PPRM should follow its lead.”
“Health center staff are the face, eyes, ears and hands of what happens within PPRM clinics. We voted for a union, and we are asking for a voice.”
Grit Post’s calls to Cowart were not returned as of this writing. Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s New York office also did not respond to Grit Post’s inquiries as of publication. This article will be updated in the event of a response.
Nick Jewell is a freelance politics contributor for Grit Post. He’s a proud resident of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.