Blocking Staff Efforts to Unionize
Awad prevented his staffers from unionizing, thus denying them the ability to have bargaining power to obtain better salaries and working conditions.
Nihad Awad tried to stop his employees from unionizing by claiming that CAIR is a religious group and forcing CAIR to unionize will be an infringement of the group’s religious freedom. This is a very odd position for a civil rights group to take — refusing to allow its staffers to have bargaining power to negotiate better salaries and working conditions.
In 2016, over half of CAIR staff members at the national office signed the union authorization cards to be represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Awad responded by appealing to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that it was exempt from the 1935 National Labor Relations Act which protects workers’ freedom of association for collective bargaining. Awad’s argument for exemption was that CAIR was essentially a “religious organization” as opposed to a secular civil rights group and that collective bargaining would “compromise [CAIR’s] constitutional free exercise of religion.” The Board rejected Awad’s argument on February 7, 2017, and scheduled a vote for unionization.
However, the unionization vote never took place. According to an anonymous insider source, which we could not verify, Awad by then had gotten rid of the seven key CAIR employees. The same anonymous source alleged that “All of the employees leading the effort to unionize were treated horribly . . .Some broke and resigned. Others were terminated, or forced to resign in exchange for hefty severance packages and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to silence them.”