Austin Pets Allied Workers Win Vote to Form Largest U.S. Animal Shelter Union 

AUSTIN, Texas, June 7, 2024 – Austin Pets Allied Workers (APAW) at Austin Pets Alive! (APA) animal shelters have won a vote to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District 776, making it the country’s biggest union of animal shelter workers. The victory comes after months of organizing and strong peer-to-peer outreach efforts by APAW members.

With the support of the IAM and the National Veterinary Professionals Union (NVPU), APAW was committed to addressing critical issues ranging from workplace safety and animal welfare policies to equitable compensation and employment practices.  

APAW voted in person or by mail-in ballots sent by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The final tally occurred today and will be officially certified in the next few days.

“We are celebrating this victory with animal care workers everywhere,” said members of the APAW Organizing Committee. “This victory gives us a seat at the table to help make the best decisions for the animals under our care. We look forward to sitting down with Austin Pets Alive! Management to secure a first contract for our fellow caregivers.” 

“I am so proud of this group for their dedication and hard work to ensure they gained respect and dignity for their fellow animal caregivers,” said IAM International President Brian Bryant. “The IAM, with the assistance of NVPU, will provide the necessary resources to gain a first contract.” 

“The APAW win is a ringing endorsement of solidarity and worker power,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Craig Martin. “The IAM Southern Territory will be in the trenches with APAW members as they secure their first contract, guaranteeing their voices are heard and their rights are protected.” 

“I applaud APAW for their hard work in achieving this historic vote to join IAM District 776,” said IAM District 776 President and Directing Business Representative Paul Black. “This victory shines a spotlight on the animal care industry and shows the power of collective action in achieving better working conditions and fair treatment. 

“APAW’s victory sends a message to workers across Texas that collective action will help achieve the gains needed in the workplace,” said IAM District 776 Organizer Keith “Chub” McCrory. “This group stood together in unity and handled the anti-union tactics from management. “The next step will be to ensure they get the respect they desire in the workplace and the animals under their care with a first contract.” 

“As a union dedicated to raising the collective voice of animal care workers everywhere, we are so excited to see APAW’s win,” said NVPU President Liz Hughston. “The members of APAW are drawn to caring for some of the neediest and most vulnerable animals in our society; they deserve to work in an environment that is as committed to them and their well-being as they are to the animals in their care.  We look forward to supporting IAM’s District 776 to secure a first contract at APA! and partnering to ensure that APAW thrives.”  

Austin Pets Allied Workers (APAW) is the worker-created and worker-led union of Austin Pets Alive! started in 2023, its members seek to ensure their workplace and the animal welfare industry as a whole adopts more sustainable, safe, and equitable practices. The organization boasts a diverse membership, with representation from across varied departments and species. All members share in common the love and care they have for our animals past, present, and future, which fuels their hope for a better future. While growing stronger every day, the Organizing Committee works to invite more workers into the fold.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is among the largest unions in North America and represents nearly 600,000 active and retired members in manufacturing, aerospace, defense, airlines, transportation, shipbuilding, woodworking, health care, and other industries. 

The National Veterinary Professionals Union was established in 2017 with the primary goal of making veterinary support a sustainable, life-long career.  In order to fulfill this goal, we are working to build collective power among workers in the veterinary health and animal care profession.  We believe in the power of collective action and healthy collaboration with veterinary and animal care employers to create improvements in workplace safety, training, benefits, and pay. We believe that taking good care of veterinary and animal care workers allows them to provide the best care for animals and the people who love them.

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