Sierra club layoffs 2024 – Discontinued News

An American environmental group is called the Sierra Club. It has chapters in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The group is well-known for its primary operations: promoting and guiding outdoor leisure activities and political activism for environmental causes.

On May 20, 2024, the Sierra Club layoffs reported more employee jobs cuts. It is the Green Group’s second wave of layoffs in just over a year. It is driven by budget constraints and conflict between management and its staff union.

According to the group, they intend to remove around 88 open posts and 72 existing roles. The layoffs are expected to lower current employment by around 10%. Thus, it is reducing the number of Sierra Club chapters and national employees to 718 from a peak of 913 in 2022.

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What happened at the Sierra Club?

In 2023, the Sierra Club faced a $40 million financial gap. It had “an important fundraising risk due to overall economic trends.” This is according to a representative of the legacy environmental group.

Top management, led by then-newly appointed Executive Director Ben Jealous, embarked on massive layoffs. This was done to deal with the organization’s financial reality. At the same time, they “created new positions, removed some old positions, and re-imagined others.”

Layoffs were planned as part of an organizational restructure. It is a new strategic vision, a “50-state strategy,” in which club employees would be grouped into four distinct zones, focusing on red states.

Several staff members who had directed campaigns for the national organization for years were moved into different positions. Some were shifted to state chapter organizations or a new “field team” that oversees regional offices. These offices act as liaisons between states and the national organization.

Nearly a year later, employees across the business are reporting widespread uncertainty. It is about the green group’s strategic direction and the duties of new positions, offices, and divisions.

Managers at both the national organization and state chapters report that they only have access to a few weeks’ worth of budgetary data at a time. Thus, it is making long-term planning extremely difficult.

In addition, management and the Progressive Workers Union are engaged in more difficult talks. The PWU has filed many unfair labor practice accusations against the Sierra Club with the National Labor Relations Board.

About the restructuring process, Sierra Club’s deputy director of communications, Jonathon Berman, stated that 

“Many communications” from the beginning clarified that “this would be a lengthy procedure. It would move on over many months, and, for some portions, more than a year.”

“We continue to follow that process. We will be making modifications based on the input of a wide array of stakeholders. It’s because we return the organization to a position of growth,” he added.

After last year’s layoffs, the Sierra Club and the Progressive Workers Union began bargaining.

The Sierra Club layoffs 2024

Sierra club layoffs

On Monday, May 20, 2024, the Sierra Club reported more employee layoffs. The layoffs mark the Sierra Club’s second straight year of employee cutbacks since Executive Director Ben Jealous took over in February 2023.

In April that year, he proposed employee cuts and an organizational change. He claimed that they would assist with his budget shortfall and position the group to boost its activities in red states.

Jealous has publicly argued with Sierra Club union members for much of his tenure. Thus, Monday’s news, which was widely expected, will increase tensions inside the organization. More staff cuts are required to balance the Sierra Club’s budget, the organization informed its employees on Monday.

After years of spending outpacing revenue, the board of directors of the Sierra Club approved a budget on Monday. The organization has the goal of balancing its finances by 2025. The group stated that a balanced budget for calendar years 2024 and 2025 requires $36.8 million in cuts. This includes about $15.3 million in nonworkforce spending and $21.5 million in layoffs.

“We were fighting Donald Trump’s attacks on the environment. Also, funding flowed, and the workforce grew rapidly. But since then, the economic environment has shifted,” Berman said.

“This means that the Sierra Club must return to funding levels from 2017, as well as staffing levels from that year. We were unable to develop balanced budgets for 2024 and 2025 without cutting staff. It’s because of the present revenue available. It’s also due to our inability to draw from our reserves as we have in prior years,” he added.

The Progressive Workers Union declared that it was shocked about the ongoing management of the Sierra Club. “Our hearts are with everyone in the Sierra Club community affected by these terrible layoffs,” they said.

The union released a statement on Monday stating, 

“Since Ben Jealous was brought in to lead the organization, management has added millions of dollars in executive salaries. They hired expensive consultants and began a union-busting effort against employees.”

The union criticized the Sierra Club for laying off workers. It stated that its management should have disclosed how the budget was divided. They also noted that they needed to define why these cuts were needed clearly. The staff union has announced that it is planning for a possible strike.

Conclusion

The Sierra Club said that in 2024 and 2025, its executive director and other officials will devote “significant time and effort to fundraising.” This is to increase revenue. They intend to increase the number of direct reports managers oversee while delaying the goal of employing chapter directors in all 50 states.

According to the group, three chief-level positions have been eliminated. Also, nonunion employees will not receive a 4% wage raise this year.

The Sierra Club is considering a voluntary severance program to reduce some of its roles. According to the group, layoff notifications for nonunion members will be released on June 5, with layoffs completed by July 19.

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