Workers’ unionizing efforts prove long, challenging against SAY Si’s board of executives

SAN ANTONIO – Workers for SAY Si, an afterschool art nonprofit, are trying to unionize, but their efforts have proven to be more challenging and longer than expected.

Employees said they want more transparency from the board of executives and more input on the organization’s future.

SAY Si theater director Amalia Ortiz said staff began to question the board of executives when long-time staff members resigned and after the organization moved into its West Side building on Brazos.

“We have questions about our future, about future programming, about the development of this building as the daily workers. We feel that we need to be very informed because our livelihoods are on the line,” Ortiz said.

When staff proposed a union, SAY Si board members rejected it and chose to go through the national labor relations board, which has proven to be a multi-month process.

“At every step, it has been a surprise. And I think, at this point now, I’m like when you ask about next steps, I don’t really know because I don’t really know what pushback we’re going to get at every step,” Ortiz said.

SAY Si Board President Jason Moran said the board chose to go through the National Labor Relations Board as a formal legal process.

“We fully support the organization and the unionization process, and we actually think that it’s going to provide a lot of good structure for us,” Moran said.

Board members have hired a legal team that specializes in employment law.

Moran said the law firm was recommended to the board.

“It was their response time, how helpful they were with just general questions that we had for them,” Moran said.

The staff is waiting to hear from the NLRB about who can legally participate in the union election. Staff wanted more team members to be included.

“The next pushback was -- they called into question some of the workers in our bargaining unit. So then we had to go through a very lengthy, three-week hearing,” Ortiz said.

SAY Si’s union rep said staff would likely vote to become a union next year, regardless if additional staff is included in the bargaining unit.

Afterschool programming will not be affected.

About the Authors

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.

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