Workers at San Antonio nonprofit SAY Sí demand the group's board cut ties with anti-union law firm

Employees also asked the board to show proof that it didn't hire the firm with donations intended to fund programs and community events.

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click to enlarge Attendees watch a demonstration at SAY Sí's recent Dia de los Muertitos event. - Facebook / SAY Sí
Facebook / SAY Sí
Attendees watch a demonstration at SAY Sí's recent Dia de los Muertitos event.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a statement from SAY Sí's board.

Workers vying to unionize at San Antonio arts and youth-development nonprofit SAY Sí have demanded that the group’s board cut ties with Ogletree Deakins, a high-profile law firm now representing management.

The employees made the demand via a Nov. 11 letter in which they also asked the board to reveal how it paid for representation from the South Carolina-based legal powerhouse, primarily known for fighting union organizing efforts.

The move comes as both sides await the results of three weeks of National Labor Relations Board hearings. Workers at the nonprofit formally petitioned the NLRB to seek union representation Oct. 4. Hearings concluded Nov. 15.

“[Ogletree Deakins] has been connected to multiple instances directly counter to the mission and values of SAY Sí, including cases that seem to cover racist immigration policies, voter suppression and union busting,” the workers’ letter reads. "Considering this firm's history, it is obvious that seeking their representation does not align with SAY Si's core values, and suggests a departure of Board Leadership from those same values."

Officials from Ogletree Deakins didn't return the Current’s request for comment by press time.

However, in an emailed statement, SAY Si’s board said it supported eligible employees' efforts to unionize and has even extended voluntary recognition of 13 staff positions.

"SAY Si’s finances are readily available on the SAY Si website, and we will continue to make these available," the board added. "We will also produce a detailed statement that can answer any outstanding questions from the community and post it to our website."

In their letter, workers said the board must explain how it's funding representation by Ogletree Deakins, named the world's 99th-highest grossing law firm in rankings by law.com.

The firm helped Donald Trump fight unionizing efforts at his since-shuttered Atlantic City casino, and it also aided Amazon.com in its effort to shut down a labor campaign by its delivery drivers, according to media reports

"The SAY Sí Union requests proof that money donated from SAY Sí supporters and community members meant for programs and community events is not being used to suppress the rights of the people who carry out the mission and values of the organization," the workers' letter said.

St. Mary’s University School of Law ProfessorJohn W. Teeter Jr. told the Current that it’s common for employers facing organizing efforts to hire firms with national expertise in labor law. Many attempt to shut down the activity because the NLRB's remedies are "weak and ineffectual," he added.

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