Employees at the Williamsburg location of Vital Climbing Gym just successfully voted to unionize their location in an election certified by the National Labor Relations Board. The Brooklyn location now joins another unionized location in Manhattan.
“Last month, employees went to Vital bosses to request the company to formally and voluntarily recognize the formation of a union — but the request was ultimately denied, forcing employees to take a vote instead,” Brooklyn Paper reports.
Supporters of the union say that their wages have not increased with the city’s cost of living. They call for health insurance for route setters, coaches, and instructors. “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,” the Climbers United union wrote on Instagram.
A small chain that started in California in 2010, Vital first made its way to Brooklyn 11 years later. The gym is open 24/7 to members (who pay $1,450 for an annual membership).
A representative from the Williamsburg location said in a statement to Greenpointers:
“Those of us on the organizing committee, and the wider body of Vital employees, are absolutely thrilled by this result. And more than that, we were entirely unsurprised. From the very beginning, we have maintained that this is a motion aimed directly at positive and tangible change for those of us who work at this company, and in recent weeks, I think we’ve been extremely successful at spreading that information across the team. What we see today is the clear result of that action, and all our organizing to date. We needed 51% to win today. We got over 81%. There is going to be a union at Vital Climbing Gym and we couldn’t be more excited.
Regarding our next steps, we are already moving on our strategies for negotiation. As wonderful of a day today is, we all understand that the work does not stop here. I’d like to think this big win will serve as a catalyst, one we will use to represent our wishes with strength and poise in the negotiations to come. We look forward to embracing the negotiations.”Varun Mehta, spokesperson and Crew Member at Vital Williamsburg.