Fuming Defenders of Wildlife staffers move toward strike

By Robin Bravender | 06/14/2024 01:32 PM EDT

Employees at the green group voted in favor of authorizing a strike this week. 

Woman upset at desk with Defenders of Wildlife logo on computer screen.

Defenders of Wildlife leadership and staff continue to struggle over raises and benefits. Claudine Hellmuth/POLITICO (illustration); NordWood Themes/Unsplash (laptop); dit-kieferpix/iStock (woman)

Union members at Defenders of Wildlife voted to authorize a strike in a preliminary tally Wednesday night.

The move was fueled by a dispute over raises and benefits, the union said, and follows years of tense negotiations between the conservation group’s union and its management. The group’s management and its union — Defenders United — have not yet finalized a collective bargaining agreement since staff unionized in 2021.

Employees “would really prefer not to have to take this measure,” one member of the Defenders union’s bargaining committee said of the move toward a strike. “Every other reasonable measure has been exhausted. This is the one that’s left,” said that person, who was granted anonymity because they feared retaliation.


Defenders CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark sent an all-staff email Thursday telling employees that the group is “disappointed by the decision” to vote to authorize a strike, but “we acknowledge their legal right to do so.” Defenders’ offices, she wrote, “will remain open, and our work will continue during any strike.”