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Yellowstone workers organize union during peak of summer

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A July 24 press release from the National Federation of Federal Employees announced that Yellowstone National Park organized a union under the NFFE. 

“Interpretive Park Rangers, educators, researchers, fee collectors, first responders, firefighters, and other staff working for the Department of Interior’s National Park Service are now unionized after voting in favor by over 80%,” the release stated. 

The election was held during the highest staffing season at the peak of the summer tourism season and both temporary seasonal and permanent employees were able to vote. 

The journey to unionizing began three years ago when Yellowstone employees began an organizing committee that canvassed for over 100 signatures. The release explained that there were “logistical hurdles” involved in the process including weather events and contacting employees stationed throughout a large area. 

The release included a statement from the Yellowstone organizing committee: “Working to protect and preserve Yellowstone for ‘the enjoyment of the people’ is a much more difficult and precarious career than people realize.”

“Due to low pay, unmanageable workloads, high rent, a stifling hierarchy, and many other issues, the workforce here is struggling. The resulting high turnover negatively affects the park and the public’s experience of it,” the statement continued. “National Park workers should be valued as highly as the places we love and work to protect, and we believe that union representation will help ensure that we are treated with the dignity and respect we deserve.”

According to the release, other Federal Land Management employees are represented by NFFE including the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the Bighorn National Forest, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and the Helena-Salmon-Challis National Forest. 

The NFFE president commented on Yellowstone employees’ decision to unionize: “By unionizing, previously unrepresented Yellowstone employees have obtained a critical voice in their workplace and now have the power to make significant changes to benefit themselves and their colleagues.”

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