Workers at Williamsburg’s Vital Climbing Gym Vote for Union with Climbers United
With a vote of 43-8, employees at Brooklyn’s popular Vital Climbing Gym this week won their union election to become members of Climbers United. Employees at the 45,000 square-foot location in Williamsburg decided to work towards unionization after workers at the Manhattan location successfully formed Climbers United with the aid of Workers United, becoming one of the first climbing unions in the country.
In May, employees went to Vital management to request that the company formally and voluntarily recognize the formation of a union, but the request was denied, forcing employees to take a vote instead. Vital — which has locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and in California — employs a large number of part-time workers who do not enjoy the same benefits or pay as full-time employees would, workers said.
"We, the workers of VITAL Brooklyn, work hard to foster a strong sense of community at the gym," the union said in a statement posted to their Instagram after they filed for an election. "For some time now, it's felt that VITAL itself hasn't reciprocated that effort. In the midst of a serious cost of living crisis in New York City, upper management has expressed on multiple occasions that they don't see a livable wage or adequate health insurance as appropriate for our positions. We've also experienced an alarming lack of clarity and communication surrounding disciplinary actions, including firings. Multiple employees have been dismissed with no prior formal warning. In terms of safety and working conditions, while we've seen recent growth from VITAL (the construction of the new front desk with limited seating), we would like to see further developments towards our comfort and protection. We understand VITAL is a business, and that they see these kinds of decisions as crucial to their success. We want a union because it will allow us to create a more equitable workplace in which we are able to advocate for the needs of all our workers." Read more here and follow Climbers United Union on Twitter and Instagram!