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RAICES union contract includes major wins for workers at the immigration nonprofit

Kate Richardson, Senior Staff Attorney at RAICES offices at Austin
Jia Chen / TPR
Kate Richardson, Senior Staff Attorney at RAICES offices at Austin

The union contract at the largest immigration services provider in Texas, RAICES, went into effect at the end of June after being ratified in May.

The contract, which took two years to negotiate, includes raises, more paid parental leave, more employer support for health insurance, professional development pay, and more.

Kate Richardson is a senior staff attorney at RAICES who sat on the union’s bargaining team.

She said she’s proud of the raise the union won for workers.

“Over 200 people are getting an immediate raise under contract, so we raised the minimum floor for most positions and most people, and there will be another 3% raise in January,” Richardson said.

RAICES CEO Dolores K. Schroeder said in a statement that the contract was a positive step forward for the nonprofit.

“After years of good faith negotiations, both parties have arrived at a mission-driven agreement rooted in our shared values and commitment to supporting our RAICES community, including our colleagues and clients,” she said in the statement.

Parental leave was increased from six to ten weeks after negotiations, and RAICES will now pay 100% of employees’ medical insurance premiums.

RAICES workers also won just cause employment, which requires employers to have a legitimate justification to fire an employee.

Members of the RAICES Texas Workers Union (RTW) denounced the organization, the largest immigration legal services provider in Texas, for neglecting to carry out an extensive search for a new CEO.

Though the organizing effort was contentious at times, with worker rallies to prevent layoffs and a protest after the current CEO was appointed from RAICES’ board in 2022, Richardson said the bargaining process was fair.

“Any bargaining situation has many, many disagreements, and many delays in the process, which is what made it drag out so long,” Richardson said. “But ultimately, we do feel that we got a good faith process.”

She said RAICES’ clients will be better served by the organization now that the new contract is in effect.

“We believe that our contract will strengthen the position of workers in this field, which will in turn strengthen our services and improve the lives of the immigrant community,” she said.