The following are the demands, along with explanations written by the striking canvassers, presented to the Sisters’ Camelot Collective for negotiation on March 1, 2013. We wish to stress that many of these points are meant to be negotiated, there has never been an expectation that all of them must be accepted as-is.
Rotating union representative on the collective
Previous attempts by various canvassers to join the collective have been met with hostility, despite declarations of openness and inclusion. This representative on the collective would only have say in matters affecting the canvass, not any of Sisters Camelot’s other programs. The canvasser filling this position would be elected democratically by the union canvassers, and the union canvasser filling this role would rotate on a regular basis.
Union chooses canvass coordinators via democratic election
Currently, the canvass is run by two canvass directors who are hired by the collective with no say from the canvass workers. The union wants to abolish these positions and replace them with canvass coordinators who would be chosen by the workers themselves through a democratic election. In this manner the best candidates for the position would be determined by the workers, who have the most familiarity with what is required, and those filling these positions would be accountable to the workers directly.
Closed union shop with a hiring and firing committee chosen within the union
Having a closed union shop at the Sisters Camelot canvass program means that every worker who joins the canvass must also join the union within one month of employment. This protects the union in the workplace and allows for new hires to get a feel for the job before making a full commitment. Currently, hiring and firing power is held by the co-canvass directors. The canvass believes that in order to have a truly democratic workplace, that power must be in the hands of the workers themselves.
Medical bills covered for work related injuries
Sisters Camelot canvassers are employed as independent contractors and are not covered by workers’ compensation laws. Although workplace injuries on the canvass are relatively rare, they do occasionally occur. We believe that it is the responsibility of Sisters Camelot to cover the medical bills for the canvass in case of injury on the job.
A system to take credit card donations at the door
Many potential donors don’t have checks or cash at the door. The ability to take credit card donations would greatly increase the amount of money that the canvassers can raise for Sisters Camelot. The collective has denied this request in the past, citing a distrust of the canvassers in regards to credit card information.
Professional van maintenance
Since being purchased in the summer, the current van used to take canvass crews out fundraising has experienced several mechanical and electrical failures that have not been addressed by a professional. Previous van maintenance has been inadequate and done in-house without a clear timeline. This has resulted in fundraising shifts cut short, hurting both the workers and the organization as a whole.
Camping canvass to Duluth
Camping canvasses are a useful and common tool used by other fundraising groups to expand support outside of the Twin Cities area.
Decentralization of coordinator pay and tasks
The current workload placed on the canvass directors has proven to be too heavy and all-encompassing, resulting in errors in accounting, zoning, and time management, among other issues. Much of this work can easily be taken on by other members of the canvass program, furthering efficiency and effectiveness of Sisters Camelot as a whole.
Canvass has control over who field manages
Field managers are responsible for directing canvass shifts, driving the van, cutting maps, dealing with money deposits, and other day-to-day tasks. The canvass has proven that they have the experience and knowledge to elect who completes these tasks and how that work is managed.
Coordinators, field managers, and canvassers do not have to be in the collective to do their job
The SC collective is a closed collective, meaning that you have to go through a trial process and application to be considered for membership. There is no guarantee that applicants will even be accepted. Volunteer hours are a requirement in addition to paid canvassing work. Many canvassers work between 4 and 7 days a week and do not have time to put in extra volunteer hours. We believe that it is unfair to require any workers at Sisters Camelot to join the collective in order to perform their paid jobs.
Review of Coordinators done by the canvass, not the collective
The canvassers are the ones who are directly affected by the work that the canvass coordinators do. Thus, it only makes sense for the canvassers to review the coordinators, not the collective, who have proven in the past that they are unable to do this task effectively and without bias.
Separation of work and personal differences
Comments made out of personal animosity can no longer be tolerated in the Sisters Camelot workplace. In the past, canvassers have felt that personal comments and attacks made on behalf of the collective have created a hostile and unhealthy work environment. We don’t expect everyone to always get along, but demand the right to work in an environment of respect and dignity.
Canvass credit card, only to be used for office supplies, gas, and canvasser appreciation
Current access to funds for emergency situations, fueling the crew van, and office expenses is in the hands of one or two collective members. Having access to a canvass credit card for such instances would help the workers do their job more effectively.
Canvass coordinators have full access to online donations, mail-in contributions, and the ability to pay canvassers out weekly
Often, when canvassers go to the door, supporters are unable to donate via cash or check, and do so either online or via mail. These donations are an important part of our wages. These donations are infrequently checked by members of the collective often resulting in late or lost wages.
More paid training, up to three days for new people when needed
Currently only one full shift is given to new hires for training purposes. The union feels that this is not enough in order to fully understand the job. We want to give new hires the tools and knowledge to perform their job at the highest level possible in order to raise more funds for Sisters Camelot.
Sisters Camelot canvassers currently do not get paid sick days, despite this being a standard practice in the industry. The canvassers union is asking for earned sick days/vacation pay as a sign of respect and dignity for the hard work that we do.
5% base pay raise
As it stands, SC canvassers earn not an hourly wage, but 40% of funds raised at the door, which is well below industry standards. A 5% base pay raise is a relatively small amount of money to ask, and will serve as an incentive for canvassers to fundraise more money for the organization.
Double bonus at four shifts worked within a week
Currently, if canvassers raise at least $500 in one week, they are granted an extra 5% commission. We are proposing that if the canvassers also work 4 shifts in a week in addition to reaching $500 in donations, they will receive an extra 5% bonus. This encourages canvassers to set fundraising goals and put in extra work toward making the organization function well.